Oil ends below $86; fiscal cliff, euro zone weigh - MarketWatch: " . . . Crude-oil futures settled lower Monday, slipping back below $86 a barrel as investors watched risks to oil demand against a backdrop of concerns about the U.S. fiscal cliff and ongoing debt crisis in the euro zone. Tension in the Middle East region, however, limited oil’s losses. . . . Prices sold off Monday “due to the ongoing woes surrounding the [U.S.] fiscal cliff and the euro debt crisis,” said Matt Smith, a commodity analyst at Schneider Electric. . . . News reports say that Israel and Syria have exchanged fire, a development which is being referred to by BBC News as the most serious episode between the two countries since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. In Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell (US:RDS.A) has shut down a pipeline, blaming leaks caused by oil thieves. Meanwhile, worries persisted Monday over whether the United States will be able to avoid falling off the so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that will take place in January, unless politicians are able to strike a deal. “The crude complex remains at the mercy of developments and nondevelopments in two distinct ‘doozies,’ which are dictating focus at the moment: the impending ‘fiscal cliff’ and the euro debt crisis,” said Smith. “We have had murmurs and rumors of developments for both over the weekend, as Greece passes its austerity budget for next year.”. . . "
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