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) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) climbed around 1 percent, but in the United States, Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) 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.
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE rose 0.2 percent, while Spain’s IBEX .IBEX advanced 0.4 percent and France’s CAC .FCHI edged down 0.2 percent.
MSCI’s all-country world stocks index .MIWD00000PUS added 0.2 percent.
The euro EUR= was up 0.5 percent at $1.0961, while the dollar .DXY was down 0.4 percent against an index of major currencies, having risen almost 9 percent this year.
Against the euro, the dollar lost 0.8 percent this week, but is up 11 percent since January in the run-up to the first U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike since 2006.
“As we move closer towards 2016 there are few calls for the dollar to repeat its 2015 strength, even despite the Fed now finally having commenced its tightening cycle,” said Simon Smith, chief economist at FXPro.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.6 percent.
Spot gold XAU= rose to $1,075.13 an ounce.
Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Patrick Graham in London and Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie Adler