Oil rises to touch $52 after Trump signs coronavirus aid package

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Oil rose to hit $52 a barrel on Monday as US President Donald Trump's signing of a coronavirus aid package and the start of a European vaccination campaign outweighed concern about weak near-term demand.

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After Trump backed down from a threat to block the package, Democrats on Monday will try to push through expanded $2,000 relief payments.

Europe, meanwhile, launched a mass vaccination drive on Sunday.

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Brent crude was up 45 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $51.74 a barrel at 1200 GMT, after trading as high as $52.02 and reversing an earlier decline. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added 44 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $48.67.

Read more: Oil demand to return to pre-coronavirus levels by end of 2021-early 2022: IHS Markit

"The signing of the US stimulus bill, with the possibility of an increased size, should put a floor under oil prices in a shortened week," said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at broker OANDA.

Oil has recovered from historic lows hit this year as the emerging pandemic hammered demand. Brent reached $52.48 on December 18, its highest since March.

But, the emergence of a new variant of the virus has led to movement restrictions being reimposed, hitting near-term demand and weighing on prices.

Opec meeting

Oil remains vulnerable to any further setbacks in efforts to control the virus, said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, in a note.

Also coming into focus will be a January 4 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, a group known as OPEC+.

The group is tapering record oil output cuts made this year to support the market.

OPEC+ is set to boost output by 500,000 barrels per day in January. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday the deal could be adjusted if the market recovers more quickly than expected.

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