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ARI, OGC, AQG, RCT, SYD,

SYDNEY, Dec 18 AAP

December 18 2012, 07:34AM

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

The price of oil finished higher as political leaders in Washington appear closer to a resolution in critical budget negotiations.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on Monday in hopes of making more progress toward avoiding the fiscal cliff, a combination of spending cuts and tax increases that go into effect on January 1.

The meeting came after Boehner on Friday offered to raise taxes on some wealthy earners - but only if Obama agrees to cuts in benefit programs.

Benchmark crude rose 47 cents to close at $US87.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell 54 cents to $US107.64 on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

BASE METALS

Base metals closed mixed on the London Metal Exchange as investors weighed the positive impact of a firmer euro against concern over the strength of the world's largest economy.

At the PM kerb close, LME three-month copper was down 0.04 per cent at $US8,061.50 a metric ton. Nickel lagged the complex, down 1.4 per cent at $US17,600/ton.

The euro rose against the US dollar in afternoon LME trade Monday, boosting the appeal of the dollar-denominated metals to investors holding the single currency.

However, US manufacturing data undershot expectations, with manufacturing activity in the New York region for December contracting at a faster pace than economists expected, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold finished nearly flat on Monday in a second session of muted trading, as Japanese election results boosted expectations for easy-money policy there that may draw investors to precious metals.

The most actively traded gold contract, for February delivery, rose $US1.20, or 0.1 per cent, to settle at $US1,698.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.