Wall Street was back on its teeter-totter today: crude oil prices went down and the stock market went up.
The reliable relationship that moves stocks in the opposite direction of oil prices kicked in after new promises of increased production from OPEC officials knocked crude futures off the all-time record high they reached yesterday.
As crude dropped back below $40 a barrel, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poors 500 stock index popped up to their highest levels in a month.
The Dow climbed 60 points to 10262.97. The S&P gained 4 points to 1124.99.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index made a run at its eighth gain in a row -- which would have been its longest winning streak in almost five years. But after showing gains until the last half hour of trading, the Nasdaq index slipped below breakeven and closed off a little less than 2 points at 1988.98.
Today's gains encouraged hope that the market is finally breaking out of the spring slump that began in March. But today's trading also showed the health of the stock market is still extremely volatile and heavily dependent on the energy market, which remains vulnerable to political and terrorist threats.
After hitting record highs in response to the weekend attacks in Saudi Arabia, the crude oil futures market reacted just as dramatically today to reports that OPEC intends to drive prices back down.
Advance word out of tomorrow's OPEC meeting in Beirut is that oil ministers are talking of doing away entirely with production quotas and urging oil producing nations to pump as much crude as they can. One OPEC insider suggested that by increasing output, the crude cartel could bring down prices by as much as $8 a barrel.
The prospects of such a big drop -- 20 percent off today's price -- are considered slim by U.S. oil experts. They also caution that it would take a month or more for falling crude prices to trickle down to the gas pump.