NYMEX-Oil edges down toward $91; US fiscal talks eyed

SINGAPORE Wed Jan 2, 2013 12:20am GMT

SINGAPORE Jan 2 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures edged down toward $91 on Wednesday as investors nervously await a last-minute deal from the United States to stave off rising taxes and spending cuts that could trigger a recession and erode its fuel demand.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for February delivery edged down 10 cents to $91.72 a barrel by 2348 GMT after gaining $1.02 on Dec. 31 to close at its highest since October. Front-month prices fell 7 percent in 2012 from the previous year pressured by surging production in the United States - which hit a 19-year high this year - and Canada.

* Brent crude settled at $111.11 a barrel on Monday, up for the fourth straight year in 2012 after geopolitical threats to production offset worries about flagging oil demand. Brent closed the year averaging over $111 a barrel, the highest annual average on record.

* Speculators raised their net long positions in Brent crude oil futures and options for a second week running, data published by the IntercontinentalExchange showed on Monday.

* Colombia reached its oil production goal of 1 million barrels a day as increased pumping in its southeast boosted output even as attacks by rebel groups caused problems for oil companies during the year.

* Government war planes bombed opposition-held areas of Syria and President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels fought on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on New Year's Day on Tuesday.

* At least 23 people were killed and 87 wounded in attacks across Iraq on Monday, police said, underlining sectarian and ethnic divisions that threaten to further destabilise the country a year after U.S. troops left.

* The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan will meet on Friday to discuss how to improve border security and resume vital oil flows, both sides said on Tuesday as the feuding African neighbours signalled possible concessions.

MARKETS NEWS

* Last-minute efforts to step back from the "fiscal cliff" ran into trouble on Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives balked at a deal that would prevent Washington from pushing the world's biggest economy into a recession.

* China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index held steady in December at 50.6, matching November's seven-month high, as growth in new orders was unchanged and the pace of output softened marginally.

* Markets were eerily quiet in Asia as trade resumed on Wednesday with investors anxiously waiting to see if the U.S. Congress could strike a last-minute deal to avoid triggering tax rises and spending cuts.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Wednesday:

0500 GMT India Dec HSBC Markit Mfg

0843 GMT Italy Dec Markit/ADACI Mfg PMI

0853 GMT Germany Dec Markit/BME Mfg PMI

0858 GMT Euro zone Dec Markit Mfg PMI

1500 GMT U.S. Dec ISM Manufacturing PMI

1500 U.S. Nov Construction spending (Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Himani Sarkar)