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Crude fluctuated after rising to the highest level in more than two months as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said lawmakers and President Barack Obama are unlikely to reach a deal to avert a fiscal crisis.
Prices erased gains amid few signs of an agreement to prevent $600 billion in automatic U.S. tax increases and spending cuts set to begin Jan. 1, known collectively as the fiscal cliff. Earlier, futures advanced as jobless claims fell.
Crude oil for February delivery slipped $90.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising to $91.44, the highest intraday level since Oct. 19. Trading volume for West Texas Intermediate futures contracts was down 43 percent from the 100-day average.
Brent oil for February settlement slid 60 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $110.47 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe. The number of contracts trading was 54 percent lower than the 100-day average. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $19.65 to WTI.
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