NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Oil prices were ticking higher Thursday morning on a weaker dollar driven by a bit more risk-taking across the stock and commodity markets.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude oil for December delivery was rising $1.11 to $96.85 a barrel, but off its intraday high of $97.90, as markets felt conservatively more upbeat about Europe's ability to control its debt crisis.
Italian yields were coming off crisis-level highs of above 7% amid a reported temporary intervention by the European Central bank to bring down Italy's borrowing costs. An unexpected fall in U.S. jobless claims for the second week in a row, as reported by the Labor Department, also helped fuel the market's conservative risk taking. As some risk appetite trickled back in, the U.S. dollar index fell 0.3%. "The strengthening will last for as long as the dollar trends lower and the equities trend higher," Schork report analyst Hamza Khan cautioned. "I think we're likely to see continued choppy trading, with crude direction dictated by the general mood in Europe," Matt Smith, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric's Summit Energy, agreed. Yesterday, the Department of Energy reported a substantial decline in U.S. crude inventories of 1.4 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 4, compared with the expectation of a 700,000 barrel increase. European Brent crude for January delivery was swinging between positive and negative territory, down 17 cents at $111.19 at the time of this writing, given its greater proximity to the emotional epicenter of the key global economic news flow.