Traders said the abrupt selling across energy, metal and agricultural markets reflected a correction to the rally that had capped 2010, rather than a sudden reversal of the optimism that made commodities the top asset class last year. Trading volume recovered to its highest level since mid-December.
Additional pressure came from a rebound in the dollar, after news of an improving US economic outlook.
In London, ICE Brent crude for February delivery fell $1.93 to $92.91 a barrel, well off an early $95.74 peak.
US crude oil for February delivery slid from an intraday peak of $92.07 a barrel to as low as $88.72 – the biggest one-day fall since November.
Traders will be turning today to an update on US oil and fuel inventory levels from the US Department of Energy.