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LONDON: Oil prices shot higher on Tuesday as OPEC and its partners discussed whether or not to raise production, while stocks were mixed.

The price of the main US oil contract, WTI, jumped more than five percent higher at one point to hit $50 a barrel for the first time since February.

OPEC and its partners are discussing whether to add 500,000 barrels of oil onto the market next month or to hold off given the rash of tighter coronavirus lockdowns that will likely dampen demand.

"Brent crude oil and WTI are showing solid gains as there is talk that OPEC+ are edging towards a compromise whereby the current output level will be maintained," said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

The news of fresh lockdowns and slow vaccination campaigns kept European stocks mostly on the back foot.

London stocks managed to end the day with a gain of 0.6 percent, helped by the strong performance of oil stocks on the FTSE 100.

The UK began implementing Tuesday new national restrictions set to last weeks as the country is beset by a new variant of the coronavirus that apparently spreads faster.

For the markets, the news was counterbalanced in part by the announcement of an extra £4.6-billion package for virus-battered businesses.

Frankfurt fell 0.6 percent as Germany was set to extend a shutdown in Europe's top economy and Paris gave up 0.4 percent as the French government scrambled to speed up a slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

"The mood has soured somewhat as a result of the national lockdowns which are once again coming into force or being extended," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.

"This was maybe inevitable anyway as a result of the (Christmas) festivities taking place in the midst of an already severe wave of Covid-19 but the new variant has thrown another spanner in the works."

In recent months, governments worldwide have tightened or prolonged lockdown restrictions to combat the health crisis.

While analysts are broadly upbeat about the long-term outlook this year, the nascent Covid-19 vaccine programmes have yet to have an impact, meaning the first few months of this year will likely be bumpy.

Wall Street's main stock indices were higher in late morning trading meanwhile, with the Dow up less than 0.1 percent.

Investors watched anxiously as voters in Georgia cast ballots in run-off elections for two Senate seats which will decide the balance of power in the upper house of Congress.

"Today's price action alone offers few if any hints over what any given result would mean for financial markets," said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi.

He said it was unclear whether markets would welcome a Democratic win as a harbinger of more government spending or spurn it as it would likely mean tax increases and more regulation.

Asian equities mostly rebounded Tuesday on hopes that ongoing vaccine rollouts would help beat the coronavirus crisis, dealers said.

Separately, bitcoin was sitting below $33,000 following swings that saw it hit a record near $35,000 before diving to $28,000 within the space of a day.—AFP