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Oil prices climb as stocks rise

NEW YORK -- Oil prices jumped on Monday as optimism rose that major producers might reach a price support deal, helping U.S. stocks to notch a fifth straight session of gains.

NEW YORK -- Oil prices jumped on Monday as optimism rose that major producers might reach a price support deal, helping U.S. stocks to notch a fifth straight session of gains.

Brent hit its highest level since December, climbing $2.12, or 5.5 percent, to settle at $40.84 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose $1.98, or 5.5 percent, to settle at $37.90.

Oil has rallied in recent weeks amid increasing hope that OPEC producers may be moving toward a production freeze to support prices in an oversupplied market. On Monday, the Ecuadorean government said Latin American oil producers agreed to meet on Friday in Quito to coordinate a strategy to support crude oil prices.

"It's more confirmation that oil producers are close to achieving some kind of a deal on price support," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "It's feeding bullish sentiment into a market that's turned 180 degrees from where it stood just weeks ago."

U.S. stocks have posted gains in each of the last three weeks, thanks in part to the rebound in oil prices, after a steep sell-off at the start of the year.

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The dollar fell, wiping out its initial gains, as the oil rally rekindled demand for the euro and commodity-sensitive currencies.

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