From Reuters:

A natural gas flare on an oil well pad burns as the sun sets outside Watford City, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Reuters/Andrew Cullen

Oil rose towards $31 a barrel on Tuesday, lifted by hopes that OPEC and non-OPEC producers may be edging closer to a deal to tackle one of the biggest supply gluts in decades.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is making renewed calls for rival producers to cut supply alongside its members, but Russia, seen as key to any deal, has so far refused to cooperate.

Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said on Tuesday he saw “some flexibility” for a deal, the idea of which has been mooted and dismissed repeatedly for more than a year.

Brent crude was up 38 cents at $30.88 a barrel by 1449 GMT, rebounding from an earlier decline. It reached $27.10, its lowest since November 2003, on Jan. 20. U.S. crude was up 20 cents at $30.54.

“Without a production agreement, fundamentals point to lower numbers,” said David Hufton of oil broker PVM. “With one, oil becomes a $40-to-$60-a-barrel market.”

Demand concerns limited the rally. China’s annual rail freight volume fell 11.9 percent in 2015, versus a drop of 3.9 percent in 2014, adding to worries about contracting economic activity in the second-largest oil consumer.

“Fears of a sharp slowdown in economic growth, particularly in China, are dragging down global stock markets from arguably overheated levels,” Energy Aspects analysts said in a…

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