By Brian Love and Ingrid Melander PARIS (Reuters) - France's hardline CGT union sought to choke off power and fuel supplies and hamper the public transport network on Thursday in a showdown with a government that flatly refused to withdraw a contested labour law reform. As tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, workers responded to the union call by stopping work at oil refineries, nuclear power plants and the railways, as well as erecting road blocks and burning wooden pallets and tyres at key ports like Le Havre and near key distribution hubs. The standoff, which raises the spectre of disruption during the France-hosted European football tournament that opens on June 10, was condemned both by Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the country's other big trade union, the CFDT.
By Karolin Schaps and Ron Bousso LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices climbed above $50 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in nearly seven months as a global supply glut that plagued the market for nearly two years showed signs of easing. Oil prices have rallied in recent weeks after a string of outages, due mainly to wildfires in Canada and unrest in Nigeria and Libya, knocked out nearly 4 million barrels per day of production. Above $50 a barrel, oil was seen by many market players as breaching a psychological barrier that could lead producers, particularly among U.S. shale companies, to revive operations scrapped in recent years.