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US oil soars 3 pct to $48.22, settles at highest level since July 1

Oil prices rose for a sixth straight day, with Brent hitting an eight-week high on Thursday as the world's biggest producers prepared to discuss a possible freeze in production levels.

Brent crude oil futures rose 88 cents, or 1.79 percent, to $50.74 per barrel, near an intraday high going back to June 23.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up $1.43, or 3.06 percent, at $48.22 a barrel, also near a session peak going back to July 5.

Both benchmarks have risen more than 20 percent from a low in early August on news the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other key exporters will probably revive talks on freezing output levels when they meet in Algeria next month.

The rally has also been driven by short covering, as speculators including hedge funds and other money...