Hong-Kong listed oil refiner Sinopec expects a rise of 150 percent in its first quarter profits, the company said late on Sunday, in a sign of recovering optimism in the oil sector.

Full year profits rose by 44 percent to RMB46.7bn ($6.8bn) in 2016, thanks to the rise in crude prices from their January 2016 low that lifted returns at Sinopec’s refining arm by 169 percent. Refining operations usually do well when prices are climbing.

Overall, average crude prices were 17 per cent lower in 2016 than the year before, forcing oil firms to cut capex and retire ageing fields that are only profitable at much higher prices. The contributed to a loss at Sinopec’s upstream operations.

In light of the recovery, Sinopec set its 2017 capex at RMB110.2bn, up from RMB76.5bn last year.

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