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BP has cut 7,500 jobs in its cost-reduction drive since 2007, the company said on Tuesday, as it reported an underlying 70 per cent rise in fourth-quarter profits. Tony Hayward, the chief executive, said last year had been one of the best for the company since the merger with Amoco in 1998. He warned of a "slow and gradual" recovery in the US and Europe, however. BP also said it expected production this year to be lower than in 2009, which benefited from there being fewer hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico than previous years. Underlying post-tax profit, excluding one-off items, was $4.4bn for the fourth quarter of last year, up from $2.6bn in the equivalent period of 2008, but slightly less than the average of analysts' expectations, which had been $4.7bn. John Paul Rathbone analyses results from Europe's largest oil company.