SINGAPORE -- Oil prices fell below $74 a barrel Tuesday in Asia, extending losses from the previous session as global stock markets slump after a disappointing US consumer spending number.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 71 cents to $73.99 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 47 cents to settle at $74.70 on Monday.

Oil traders have been following closely global stock markets as a barometer of overall investor sentiment. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.4 percent Monday after the Commerce Department said consumer spending in the US rose just 0.4 percent in July.

Most major Asia stock markets also fell Tuesday, led by a 2.9 percent plunge in Japan's Nikkei 225 index.

"Oil continues to spend much of its time trailing the stock market," Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "Bearish underlying fundamentals make it extremely easy for oil to drift lower in response to weakening equities."

Investors will be looking to August employment data for clues about the strength of the US economy.

In other Nymex trading in September contracts, heating oil fell 1.02 cent to $2.015 a gallon and gasoline slid 0.31 cent to $1.931 a gallon. Natural gas for October delivery rose 1.3 cents to $3.825 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude was down 63 cents at $75.97 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange. (AP)