By Robert Gibbons
NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Brent crude prices hovered near unchanged on Friday in choppy, end-of-month trading as investors monitored developments in U.S. budget talks and Middle East tensions continued to support the oil complex.
Brent and U.S. crude remained on pace to post monthly gains, snapping a string of two straight months of decline. U.S. RBOB gasoline and heating oil seesawed as December contracts approached expiration at the end of the session.
Oil futures have been buffeted this week by shifting impressions of negotiations between the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama on a deal to avert $600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts, the 'fiscal cliff', which investors fear could send the economy back into recession.
'No significant progress seems to have been made in the U.S. budgetary dispute,' Commerzbank oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said.
But he added: 'If the fiscal cliff can be avoided, (oil) prices should increase.'
Oil market participants continue to gauge the potential impact of Egypt's latest political crisis, which erupted when President Mohamed Mursi gave himself sweeping new powers last week.
Iran's dispute with Israel and the West over Tehran's nuclear program and the civil conflict in Syria also supported the geopolitical risk premium for oil prices.
'You don't want to be too short going into the weekend with all the geopolitical risk out there,' said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Brent January crude was unchanged at $110.76 a barrel at 12:11 p.m. EST (1711 GMT), having swung from $110.25 to $111.19.
Brent seesawed near the 50-day moving average of $110.57 and the 100-day moving average of $110.87.
U.S. January crude was up 35 cents at $88.42 a barrel, having reached $88.79, stalling just above the 50-day moving average of $88.63.
Data on Friday showed U.S. consumer spending fell in October for the first time in five months as personal income remained unchanged, suggesting economic growth could be slower in the fourth quarter.
In a report on Thursday, U.S. GDP growth in July-September was revised up to 2.7 percent from an initial reading of 2.0 percent as restocking by businesses provided a big boost, but consumer and business spending were revised lower.
The euro hit a seven-month high against the yen and a five-week peak versus the dollar on Friday, helped by month-end buying by Japanese importers and approval of the latest Greek bailout deal by German lawmakers.
The euro gained even amid weak regional data, including a German retail sales drop, lower French consumer spending, and a record-high unemployment rate for the euro zone.
A weaker dollar index, usually bullish for dollar-denominated commodities such as oil, helped send copper to its highest level in more than five weeks.
U.S. stocks traded little changed as investors hesitated to make big bets ahead of remarks by Obama on the progress of the budget talks.
(Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London and Luke Pachymuthu in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson) Keywords: MARKETS OIL/
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