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Total has increased its dividend after reporting better-than-expected fourth quarter results which reinforced its status as one of the best-performing global oil and gas groups.

The move reflects recovery in the price of crude, which is two-thirds higher than a year ago, as well as Total’s success in cutting average production costs per barrel by 40 per cent since 2014.

Adjusted net income in the three months to December 31 were $2.4bn, up 16 per cent from the same period in 2015 and better than the average $2.2bn forecast by analysts.

This prompted Total to lift its dividend by a cent to €0.62 per share for the fourth quarter.

Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive, said Total’s profitability was the highest among the global majors after a 14 per cent rise in production over the past two years and cost savings of $2.8bn in 2016, which exceeded a target for $2.4bn. Production costs have fallen from $9.9 per barrel in 2014 to $5.9 last year.

Production in the fourth quarter was up 4.5 per cent from last year at 2.45m barrels of oil and oil equivalent a day, at the lower end of analysts’ expectations.

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