Oil slips slightly amid ‘fiscal cliff’ uncertainty


Oil prices slipped slightly Friday as traders eyed an 11th-hour “fiscal cliff” meeting at the White House ahead of a New Year’s Eve deadline. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate light sweet crude for February delivery, edged seven cents lower to settle at $90.80 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for February delivery dipped 18 cents a barrel in London trade down to $110.62. After opening in positive territory in New York trade, prices turned lower following a weekly US Energy Department report that said the country’s crude supplies fell by 600,000 barrels in the week ended December 21 — less than analysts had expected. But markets seemed largely focused on a White House gathering between President Barack Obama and senior lawmakers aimed at preventing the United States from going over the so-called fiscal cliff, a mix of steep increases and budget cuts due to kick in Tuesday. Experts warn that failure to reach a deal by the end of the year could take the US economy back into recession. And that could deal a blow to energy demands for the world’s biggest consumer of crude. President Barack Obama wants taxes on American families earning more than $250,000 a year to go up but to spare the middle class. Republicans, however, want to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts due to expire for everyone.