U.S. crude settles lower as fiscal deal expectations fade

NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures fell more

than 1 percent on Friday as faltering efforts to negotiate a

U.S. budget reinforced fears a deal would not get done to avoid

mandated tax hikes and spending cuts that could curb the economy

and demand for petroleum.

U.S. February crude futures fell $1.47, or 1.63

percent, to settle at $88.66 a barrel. For the week, front-month

crude futures posted a gain of $1.93, or 2.2 percent.

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

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