U.S. February crude ends higher as January contract expires

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. February crude futures

rose on Wednesday, with the front-month January crude contract

expiring, on optimism that the battle over the U.S. budget will

be resolved and reduce the threat of recession and of curbed

demand for petroleum.

U.S. February crude rose $1.58, or 1.79 percent, to

settle at $89.98 a barrel, having traded from $88.26 to $90.33.

(Reporting by Robert Gibbons; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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