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Oil prices rise after Opec keeps low output target

[LONDON] Oil prices rose on Friday, breaking a two-day losing streak, after Opec ministers kept their existing oil production target for another six months at a level below current output.

Speaking on his way out of Opec's biannual ministerial meeting in Vienna, Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said the 12-member group had agreed to maintain their production target at 30 million barrels per day (bpd).

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had rolled over its target, he said.

Opec has been pumping over 31.2 million bpd in recent weeks, a Reuters survey has shown, with Saudi Arabia's production near record levels.

Brent crude oil for July rose 80 cents to a high of $62.83 before easing back to around US$62.40 by 1215 GMT.

US crude futures were up 30 cents at US$58.30.

Kash Kamal, senior analyst at brokerage Sucden Financial in London, said investors were reassured that Opec had not raised its output target to reflect current production, a possibility raised by some officials.

"I think it's more a sigh of relief: keeping the ceiling at 30 million bpd, which it has been since November," Mr Kamal said. "Markets are thankful there's no increase in the production quota," he added.

But the market remained oversupplied.

"The decision was pretty much in line with the consensus expectations," said Olivier Jakob at Swiss consultancy Petromatrix in Zug. "It does not really change anything from the current market situation."

Andy Brogan, Global Oil & Gas Transactions Advisory Services Leader at EY, said: "If this morning has taught us anything it is that the journey back to a high oil price world will be a long one if it happens at all," he said.

Oil prices tumbled 5 percent in the previous two sessions as investors expected world oversupply to continue.

With oil prices having rebounded by more than a third after hitting a six-year low of US$45 a barrel in January, Opec officials in Vienna saw little reason to tinker with what they see as a successful production strategy.

Lower oil prices have helped support growth in fuel consumption and put a damper on the US shale boom.

REUTERS