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Crude ends higher as Iraq, Libya push up prices

Oil rose broadly on Tuesday, as new worries about Libyan output and fighting in Iraq helped prices rebound after five straight declines.

U.S. gasoline prices led gains, rising by 1.5 percent as the coldest weather in decades triggered a handful of refinery glitches that curtailed supply, while widespread freezing conditions fed heating fuel demand.

Libya's navy opened fire after a tanker approached to load crude at the seized port of Es Sider, dampening the prospect of a further output recovery after the restart of the major El Sharara oilfield had led to a drop in prices. Production is building up at the 340,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) El Sharara, which on Tuesday is pumping 277,000 bpd. A return to full output will more than double Libyan production, which had fallen to 250,000 bpd from 1.4 million bpd in July.

Violence in Iraq and the possibility of increased tensions ahead of parliamentary elections in April have also sparked concern about supply from the No. 2 Middle East oil producer.

Brent crude gained 70 cents to hold above $107, after settling lower in the previous five sessions, partly on expectations of rising Libyan exports. Brent hit its lowest since Nov. 20 on Monday, finding support just above that day's low of $106.51.

U.S. crude rose 24 cents to settle at $93.67 a barrel. The contract had fallen in the past five sessions, settling 53 cents lower on Monday.

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