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Oil price hits seven month high

Crude oil prices rose above $70 per barrel today, the highest they have reached for seven months, on signs that global demand may be rising.

Prices jumped after the American Petroleum Institute (API) said American oil reserves fell by 5.96m barrels last week. This is far higher than the 400,000 barrels analysts had anticipated.

The steep drop leaves total reserves at 357.9m, their lowest level since March, and suggests global demand for the commodity may have bottomed, prompting refineries to increase production.

Such was the speed of the recovery in crude prices, more than doubling since they hit $32.40 in December last year, that the Kuwaiti oil minister said today the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) could increase supply in September if prices reach $100 per barrel. If they remain around $75 per barrel, however, supply will remain steady, he said.

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