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UPDATE 7-Oil hits more than 1-yr high on supply cuts, stimulus hopes

* Brent, WTI reach highest since January 2020

* Six-month Brent backwardation spread widest in over a year

* U.S. oil rig count highest since May last week - Baker Hughes (Updates prices, market activity; changes byline, dateline, previous LONDON)

NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose on Monday to their highest in just over a year, with Brent nudging past $60 a barrel, boosted by supply cuts among key producers and hopes for further U.S. economic stimulus measures that can boost demand.

Brent rose 96 cents, or 1.6%, to $60.30 a barrel by 11:37 a.m. EST (1637 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate gained $1.00, or 1.8%, to $57.85 a barrel.

“Managing to breach $60 again feels like the market is finally resurfacing after the long struggle and (taking) a proper breath,” said Rystad Energy’s vice president for oil markets Paola Rodriguez Masiu. “It offers a feeling of normality again.”

Brent reached a session high of $60.40, and WTI hit a $57.97 peak, both their highest since January 2020.

“Oil prices are back close to pre-pandemic levels,” said Norbert Rucker, analyst at Swiss bank Julius Baer.

“Support seems robust and the narrative sees the oil market swiftly burning through the remaining crisis-surplus, potentially running into tightness later this year,” he added.

The oil market continues to tighten, with Saudi Arabia pledging extra supply cuts in February and March following reductions by other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.

In a sign that prompt supplies are tightening, the six-month Brent spread LCOc1-LCOc7 hit a high of $2.54 on Monday, its widest since January last year.

OCBC economist Howie Lee said the world’s top exporter Saudi Arabia sent a “very bullish signal” last week when it kept monthly crude prices to Asia unchanged despite expectations for small cuts.

“I don’t think anybody dares to short the market when Saudi is like this,” he added.

Investors are also keeping a close watch on a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package for the United States that is expected to be passed by lawmakers as soon as this month.

Hopes that Iranian oil exports would soon return to the market have been dampened, supporting oil prices.

U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would not lift sanctions on Iran simply to get it back to the negotiating table, while Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said all sanctions should be lifted first.

Stronger crude prices are meanwhile encouraging U.S. producers to increase output.

The U.S. oil rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose last week to its highest since May, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes Co.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jan Harvey

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