NEW YORK, Dec. 25 -- Crude prices fell slightly on Monday in thin holiday trading as U.S. "fiscal cliff" loomed.
U.S. "fiscal cliff" discussions have been the major driving force for the crude markets lately as negotiations between the Republicans and Democrats moved back and forth.
Crude prices were under great selling pressure on Friday as talks between the two parties fell into deadlock again after House Republicans canceled a vote for "Plan B," in which they proposed a tax raise for households earning over 1 million dollars.
On Monday, there were no talks in Washington as U.S. lawmakers went home for Christmas. As the deadline of Jan. 1 for "fiscal cliff" approaches, worries among investors about U.S. fiscal uncertainties surged, piling further pressure on the markets and sending crude along with equities down.
But some investors still had the hope that some kind of last- minute resolution could be reached even without a budget deal, which helped pare crude losses.
Meanwhile, the continuing unrest in Syria, tension between Iran and the West and turbulence in other Middle East countries also offered support to crude prices, limiting their declines.
Trading volume were extremely light on Monday ahead of Christmas Day. The turnover of the U.S. crude benchmark was more than 70 percent lower than its 30-day average.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery lost 5 cents, or 0.06 percent, to settle at 88.61 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for February delivery slipped 17 cents, or 0.16 percent, to close at 108.80 dollars a barrel.