By Biman Mukherji
--Oil futures were higher by midday after start-of-week weakness Tuesday following the New Year's holiday, setting the stage for fresh 2 1/2-year highs.
--February light, sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently up 0.3% at $60.59 a barrel in the Globex trading session. March Brent rose 0.4% to $67.11.
--The oil market finished 2017 strongly, with the US benchmark rising in 9 of 11 sessions and Brent climbing 8 of the past 9. Both rose some 1% on Friday and have notch 4-straight months of gains for the first time since May 2016.
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