Brent crude settles higher on hopes for U.S. budget deal

NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Brent crude futures rose on

Tuesday, as signs of progress in talks to resolve the U.S.

budget dispute eased concerns about looming mandated tax hikes

and spending cuts that investors fear might slow the economy and

curb oil demand.

Brent February crude rose $1.20, or 1.11 percent, to

settle at $108.84 a barrel, having traded from $107.93 to

$108.95.

(Reporting by Robert Gibbons; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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