NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Oil prices did an about face and posted a fifth straight day of gains Tuesday despite Slovakia's decision to delay a key vote on expansion of the eurozone bailout fund.
The December Brent crude contract was gaining $1.45 to $108.10 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude oil for November delivery was rising 40 cents to $85.81. Stocks finished mixed amid the uncertainty caused by the delay in Slovakia, which is the only eurozone nation that has yet to approve of the expansion.
There's been almost a 96% correlation between crude oil futures and the equities market over the last few months. Oil prices were pressured into negative territory earlier on worries over the outcome of Slovakia's vote on the fund's expansion; bearish comments from European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet about European debt crisis; and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' cut of its forecast for growth in oil demand this year and next year. "It appears that crude bulls want to keep the recent price recovery momentum going despite continued concerns over the economic slowdown tied to the European debt crisis," says OptionsXpress analyst Michael Zarembski. "WTI seems to be following along with the strength in Brent," he said. Zarembski also added that "some support may be coming from a report that the U.S. thwarted a plot to attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington D.C., which may have put a bit of a risk premium in the oil market." The near-term spread between the Brent and WTI were widening as Shell ( RDS.A) declared force majeure -- or the inability to fulfill a contract for delivery of supplies -- on exports of Forcados crude oil from Nigeria for the next three months, following the sabotage of an oil pipeline. "I remain concerned about the health of certain European nations, but I think the market's priced in that concern, and the stage is set for a run higher in the short term," said Schork report analyst Hamza Khan. Energy stocks were mixed. Sunoco ( SUN) was rising 0.3% to $34.32; Valero Energy ( VLO) was gaining 3.9% to $21.86; Murphy Oil ( MUR) was rising 0.6% to $50.26; Hess ( HES) was down 0.9% to $55.61; Occidental Petroleum ( OXY) was losing 1.1% to $80.73; Schlumberger ( SLB) was gaining 1.3% to $66.63; and Apache ( APA) was falling 1.9% to $86.90. -- Written by Andrea Tse in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.