U.S. crude ends higher on hopes for budget deal to avoid cliff

NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. 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.

U.S. January crude rose 73 cents, or 0.84 percent, to

settle at $87.93 a barrel, having traded from $87.21 to $88.16.

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

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