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Oil prices reach highest in almost a year as producers restrain output

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OPEC+ experts were holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday as a rise in oil prices to their highest in nearly a year masked persistent concerns about a recovery in oil demand.

Oil has rallied from historic lows hit past year as the pandemic hit demand, thanks to record output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+ that the group is beginning to unwind. A ministerial panel meets to review the market on Wednesday. "Bottom line, oil prices are in a well-defined uptrend and barring any fundamental surprises, should continue to move up toward $60 [a] barrel near term".

Brent crude was up 51 cents, or 0.9 per cent, at $56.86 a barrel by 0134 GMT, while United States oil gained 53 cents, or 1 per cent, to $54.08 a barrel.

Brent crude was up $1.31, or 2.3%, at $57.66 a barrel by 1500 GMT for its third straight day of gains and the highest levels since February past year.

Oil has been helped by surveys indicating members of the OPEC+ alliance lifted output in January by less than was allowed under their agreement.

Meanwhile, global stocks remained firm on Tuesday, with benchmark USA stock indexes moving up as investors have been encouraged by news on the pace of vaccine rollout in the US and the prospect of more fiscal aid from Congress, which may speed the economic recovery and energy demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was pumping 25.75 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, the survey found, up 160,000 bpd from December.

Oil hit an 11-month high on Wednesday, boosted by a draw in US crude and gasoline stocks, which fueled demand recovery hopes as OPEC+ has forecast that the market will be in deficit in 2021. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute will report its figures later Tuesday ahead of the US government's storage tally on Wednesday.

Gasoline stocks fell by 240,000 barrels, defying analysts' expectations for a build of 1.1 million barrels.

The JMMC is unlikely to recommend new policies, which will instead be tackled at the next full OPEC+ meeting in early March.

Prices saw a more than 11% climb Monday.

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