NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Crude oil futures jumped Thursday on renewed confidence in the global economy that buoyed equity markets.

Also, as investors grow more comfortable with taking risks, they are leaving the dollar, a migration that generally strengthens commodities markets.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled $2.12, or 3.1%, higher at $71.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The benchmark contract hit an intraday high of $72.55 a barrel, the highest level since Sept. 18. November Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange closed $2.57 higher at $69.77 a barrel.

"People are leaving the dollar and going into the stock and oil markets," said Mark Waggoner, president of Excel Futures, in Newport Beach, Calif. "There is encouragement of a better economy ahead."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently traded 68 points higher at 9,794. The stock market's bull run this year has sparked predictions that the index will break through the 10,000 level.

Continued weakness in the dollar has caused investors to look at commodities, such as oil. Dollar weakness raises the specter of inflation, and many investors believe that hard assets such as crude oil will better retain value in an inflationary environment. Also, oil tends to rise on a weaker dollar because buyers using foreign currencies can bid up the price of the raw material. The dollar approached a 2009 low against the dollar Thursday. The euro traded as high as $1.4818 but later receded.

The dollar's slide came despite comments from European Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet that U.S. support for a strong dollar is extremely important and that excessive currency volatility is negative for both the economy and financial stability.

Oil remains in the $65-$75 range, where it has traded for more than two months. Many market participants, oil ministers and industry executives have noted that the market appears to be largely in balance despite a surplus of certain fuels and a hazy outlook for demand going into 2010.

Thursday's rise in oil could be the impetus for a another leg up, said Waggoner, who said prices could gravitate toward $74.

Oil has been unable to break through the $75-a-barrel level, which it hit during the day on Aug. 25. Crude futures last settled above $75 a barrel in October 2008.

The gains in oil erased the previous day's losses as the market's focus shifted away from concern over inflated oil inventories in the U.S.

Front-month November reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled up 5.94 cents, or 3.1%, to $1.7797 a gallon. November heating oil closed 6.58 cents, or 3.7%, higher at $1.8469 a gallon.


More information on settlements and highs and lows for futures on Nymex and ICE platforms can be found by searching for the following headlines:

Nymex Light Crude Oil Close
Nymex Harbor RBOB Gasoline Close
Nymex Heating Oil Close
ICE Brent Crude Oil Close
ICE Gas Oil Close

-By Claire Rangel, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2846; claire.rangel@dowjones.com