Oil continues recovery, dollar slips in quiet trade
By David Gaffen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices gained for a fourth straight day on Thursday, while equity markets were quiet headed into the Christmas holiday.
A number of major bourses, including those in Germany, Brazil and Norway were closed on Thursday, while several other markets closed early for the Christmas holiday.
The dollar slipped, but the greenback has still had a strong year ahead of next week's closeout of 2015.
Wall Street dipped modestly, though the Nasdaq eked out a sliver of a gain, on an abbreviated day that ended at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT). The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 0.29 percent to 17,552.17, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.16 percent to 2,060.99, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.05 percent to 5,048.49.
Falling supplies and the lifting of a 40-year-old ban on most U.S. crude exports pushed front-month West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 up 60 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $38.10 a barrel. They were set for the biggest weekly gain since early October. [O/R]
Internationally traded Brent futures LCOc1 rose 57 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $37.93, but have fallen about 35 percent this year.
Tumbling oil prices have battered energy companies and lowered inflation expectations, pushing down government borrowing costs and reinvigorating bets on further European Central Bank monetary policy easing.
Shares of British oil majors such as BP (BP.L: Quote) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) climbed around 1 percent, but in the United States, Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote) and Chevron (CVX.N: Quote) were lower, as energy stocks pulled back from a few days of strength. The sector has been the worst performer among the S&P industries in 2015. Continued...