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Oil prices extend gains

London: World oil prices rose Friday, extending solid gains in the previous session in response to reports that leading petroleum producers are curtailing investment.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery added 75 cents to $51.96 a barrel compared with Thursdays close.

Brent North Sea crude for April leapt $1.02 to $60.30 a barrel in London afternoon trade — the first time this year above $60.

Crude futures had rallied by almost $2.50 on Thursday on reports of falling investment in the oil sector.

Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said dealers are wary about the impact of such cuts in the immediate term.

“We will continue to see range-bound trading in the immediate term with little change to fundamentals,” Ang told AFP.

“The main thing is crude production. As long as production levels dont go down for now, it is hard to see a reversal of low oil prices,” he said.

“Markets seem to be ready for prices to go up again. They are just waiting for a sign that production will be significantly cut.”

A US stockpiles report Wednesday showing crude reserves standing at an 80-year high for this time of the year has exacerbated concerns about a global supply glut.

Oil prices have been under pressure for months, plunging about 60 percent to just over $40 a barrel between June and the end of January.

However, they have recovered slightly in recent weeks as the number of drilling rigs has fallen and oil companies such as Total and Royal Dutch Shell trimmed some investment. (AFP)