Oil prices slip in profit taking after cliff rally

Global oil prices edged lower Thursday on profit taking a day after a powerful relief rally over the fiscal cliff deal in the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, dipped 20 cents from Wednesday to close at $92.92 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for February fell 33 cents to settle at $112.14 a barrel in London trade.

Equity and oil markets slipped back after Wednesday's sharp gains fueled by a long-awaited US political deal to avert the worst of the year-end fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and broad spending cuts.

"Traders are taking time to lock in profits, and are shaking off the euphoria as realization that further fiscal battles" in the deeply divided US Congress lie ahead in the coming months, said Ryan Miller of Western Union Business Solutions.

Crude futures had rallied Wednesday following news that the United States -- the world's biggest consumer of crude oil -- had avoided most of the "fiscal cliff" tax hikes that had threatened to plunge it back into recession.

"The rising dollar and climbing oil supplies pushed crude prices back lower after the run-up," Miller added.

The stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated crude more expensive for buyers using other currencies like the euro.

Traders were meanwhile switching their attention to Friday's crucial US labor market data for a better idea of the health of the world's number-one economy.

On the same day, the US government's Department of Energy will also publish its weekly oil inventories report, two days later than normal owing to the New Year public holiday on Tuesday.

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