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Benchmark oil prices on Thursday climbed above US$50 per barrel for the first time since late June.

Crude prices have been heading steadily upward over the past week but remain much lower than two years ago, prior to a global price collapse that began in November 2014.

November contracts for light crude reached US$50.51 per barrel at one point.oil_price_chart

North American benchmark oil prices haven’t been so high since June 24, when they were falling precipitously towards US$41 per barrel in early August.

Low oil prices have had a crushing effect on Canada’s oil-producing provinces, particularly Alberta.

A report from BMO Financial Group said early Thursday that the provincial economy will shrink this year by an estimated 2.3 per cent, in addition to last year’s decline of four per cent.

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