Crude prices were mixed in thin Asian trade Thursday on continued uncertainty about whether a deal to avert the US "fiscal cliff" could be reached by the year-end deadline, analysts said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, added six cents to $91.04 a barrel in the afternoon while Brent North Sea crude for February delivery fell 10 cents to $110.97.
Crude was "consolidating" after the previous day's large gains which saw prices soar more than $2, said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management for IG Markets Singapore.
"Trade remains thin and the main focus is on US budget talks," he told AFP.
Republicans and Democrats remained deadlocked even as US President Barack Obama cut short his Christmas holiday and flew back to Washington to attempt to broker an 11th-hour deal.
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also warned late Wednesday in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the government will reach its 16.39-trillion-dollar debt limit -- a Congress-imposed ceiling -- on Monday.
Geithner also said that if the White House and US lawmakers fail to agree on a budget compromise to prevent the economy plunging over the "fiscal cliff", also due on December 31, then he could not be sure when the money would dry up.