U.S. crude settles slightly lower in thin, pre-holiday trading

NEW YORK, Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures edged lower

on Monday in an abbreviated session before the Christmas

holiday, with thin trading volume the main feature as oil prices

felt pressure from concerns about the unresolved U.S. budget

ahead of looming mandated tax hikes and spending cuts.

U.S. February crude fell 5 cents, or 0.06 percent, to

settle at $88.61 a barrel, having traded from $88.20 to $88.86.

(Reporting by Robert Gibbons)

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