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Oil up ahead of OPEC meeting as dollar slips

LONDON - Oil prices rose on Tuesday in response to a weaker dollar and expectations that OPEC producers would maintain their group production target at its current level and resist pressure for an increase.

LONDON - Oil prices rose on Tuesday in response to a weaker dollar and expectations that OPEC producers would maintain their group production target at its current level and resist pressure for an increase.

The dollar fell more than 1 percent against a basket of currencies, making oil cheaper for holders of other currencies, and particularly in  Europe , which saw a surge in the value of the euro. 

Brent crude oil for July was up 15 cents at $65.03 a barrel by 1330 GMT. U.S. crude was up 40 cents at $60.60 a barrel.

Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), responsible for more than a third of the world's oil output, meet in  Vienna  on Friday to decide on production policy for the next six months.

The group has been producing up to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) more than needed this year, but analysts expect demand to pick up, helping to drain stocks and balance the market.

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Saudi Arabia 's oil minister,  Ali al-Naimi , has said he expects oil demand to increase in the second half of this year while supply decreases, in a sign that the kingdom's strategy of defending market share was working.

"Demand is picking up. Good! Supply is slowing, right? That is a fact," Naimi told reporters. "You can see that I'm not stressed, I'm happy."

Carsten Fritsch , senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in  Frankfurt , noted that the Saudi oil minister had said it would take time for the oversupply to be reduced and for balance to be restored on the oil market.

"A weaker U.S. dollar is lending prices buoyancy, as are comments made by the Saudi Arabian Oil Minister," Fritsch said.

Several banks and analysts, including Morgan Stanley, have suggested that OPEC could raise its production target, acknowledging that it has been producing more than planned over the last few months.

But most investors expect no change in OPEC's official target.

"OPEC meets on Friday and is in no mood to cut output," said  Amrita Sen , chief oil analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects.

"The gulf between the member countries remains extremely wide, and without a contribution from everyone ... Saudi Arabia  will not reduce production."

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The contrasting views between OPEC members are partly the result of differing extraction costs.  Saudi Arabia wants to keep output high in defence of market share, while  Venezuela  and Iran favour cuts to boost prices.

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