Crude prices edged down on Friday as U.S. crude inventories remained heavy last week and investors were cautious about the possible outcomes of this year's last bipartisan meeting in Washington over the "fiscal cliff."
U.S. President Barack Obama met with a bi-partisan group of congressional leaders at the White House at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, trying to reach a deal before the deadline of Jan. 1. If there was no deal, automatic spending cuts and tax hikes would come into force, which according to economists could drag the world's largest economy back into recession.
Investors remained cautious before the lawmakers' last-ditch attempt in avoiding "fiscal cliff," while the trading volume stayed light.
The Energy Information Administration said on Friday that U.S. crude inventories decreased slightly by 600,000 in the week ended Dec. 21. This was the fifth draw in the last six weeks but most of the draws have been small. Oil inventories remained extremely heavy.
The report also showed that U.S. oil production rose to 6.98 million barrels per day last week, hitting the highest level since March 1993.
On the economic front, the index of pending home sales rose 1.7 percent in November from October, the best performance since April 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index gained for the third month in December to 51.6, a four-month high, showing manufacturing expansion in the region.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery lost 7 cents, or 0.08 percent, to settle at 90.80 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For this week, it rose sharply by 2.14 dollars, or 2.41 percent.
Brent crude for February delivery slipped moderately 18 cents, or 0.16 percent, to close at 110.62 dollars a barrel, registering a weekly increase of 1.65 dollars, or 1.51 percent.