Oil slide as traders eye US energy report

London (AFP) – World oil prices rose Tuesday on upbeat comments from key producer Kuwait, while investors kept tabs on Greece’s troubled debt talks with its creditors.

Brent North Sea crude for April delivery rallied as high as $ 62.57 — a level last seen on December 22, 2014. It later stood at $ 61.97 a barrel in London midday trade, up 57 cents from Monday’s close.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April delivery rose 33 cents to $ 53.11 a barrel.

“The Kuwaiti oil minister is optimistic that the gains will hold and prices will drift higher in the second half of the year,” said PVM analyst David Hufton in a note to clients.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that he is right,” he added.

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair said oil prices have recovered “faster” than expected and recent gains will likely hold.

“I think it will last… It started holding gains now and hopefully, in the second part of 2015, we will see better prices,” Omair told reporters Monday.

Kuwait, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, is the world’s 10th largest petroleum producer.

Crude has been on a rollercoaster for the past two weeks after prices fell by around 60 percent between June and January.

Losses accelerated in November after OPEC decided to maintain its production at 30 million barrels per day.

In recent weeks, market sentiment has been bolstered by cuts in output by North American shale producers that have raised expectations of a reduction in the current supply glut.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Greece and Europe raced to scrape together a last-minute debt deal for Athens and avoid a catastrophic Greek exit from the eurozone a day after talks collapsed.

Greek borrowing prices soared and the euro sank against the dollar hours after the radical leftist government in Athens refused a demand by eurozone partners that it apply for an extension to its EU bailout.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister, on Monday gave an isolated Greece 48 hours to request the extension to the bailout programme that expires at the end of the month, a demand that Athens bitterly refuses.

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