U.S. crude prices Friday pared earlier gains that were boosted by the positive job data and posted a fourth straight decline at the close.
Oil got lifted in the earlier trading after the Labor Department's better-than-expected monthly non-farm payrolls report. The report showed U.S. added 146,000 non-farm jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest level since December 2008, noting the Hurricane Sandy's negative effect on job markets was limited.
But rise of oil prices stalled after the Thomson Reuters/ University of Michigan's reading for U.S. consumer confidence in December tumbled to the lowest level since August. The reading fell steeply to 74.5 from 82.7 one month earlier on concerns about the approach of fiscal cliff.
House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that stalemate persisted in the fiscal negotiation with U.S. President Barack Obama, and he demanded President Obama provide a new offer to avoid the so- called"fiscal cliff." Economists kept warning, saying once the automatic spending cuts and tax increases by the new year were triggered, the world's largest economy could be dragged into recession.
Moreover, more bearish forecasts about the euro zone's economy added further pressure to oil markets.
A day after the European Central Bank cut its own forecasts for the euro zone economic growth, the central banks of Germany and Austria on Friday foresaw barely any economic growth in 2013 and the German Bundesbank even noted the risks of a recession. Also, investors began turning their attention to the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries due on Dec. 12 and were anticipating the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting for this year, which will be held from Dec. 11-12.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery lost 33 cents, or 0.38 percent, to settle at 85.93 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For this week, it dropped sharply by 2.98 dollars, or 3.35 percent.
Brent crude for January delivery, which has been falling for the whole week, posted a loss of 1 cent to close at 107.02 dollars a barrel. It slipped 4.21 dollars, or 3.78 percent for the week.