One factor that has sent the dollar down and oil up recently has been the Federal Reserve's months-long round of rate cuts. In an attempt to stimulate the ailing U.S. economy, the central bank has cut rates by three percentage points since September. But the rate cuts are also inflationary, weakening the dollar and sending oil prices higher.
"The weak dollar is a major detriment to the price of oil," said Stephen Schork, publisher of the energy industry newsletter The Schork Report. "It's keeping prices artificially high."
Since this time last year, the dollar has plummeted over 10% against global currencies, and oil has climbed about 80%. As the dollar continues to depreciate in value, investors have bought oil futures as a hedge against inflation.
Also, oil is priced in dollars worldwide, so a falling dollar provides less incentive for oil-exporting countries to increase output, or for foreign consumers to cut back on oil use.