* ECB's bleak assessments depress sentiment further
* Political impasse on U.S. fiscal crisis in focus
* Coming up: U.S. non-farm payrolls; 1330 GMT
By Ramya Venugopal
SINGAPORE, Dec 7 Brent crude held steady above
$107 per barrel on Friday, but prices headed for their biggest
weekly loss since late October on worries about the euro zone
economy and a looming fiscal crisis in the United States, the
world's top oil consumer.
While the European Central Bank painted a gloomy picture of
the region in 2013, investors also remained cautious with no
immediate resolution in sight to the U.S. "fiscal cliff" of
steep budget cuts and tax hikes which come into effect next year
and threaten to tip the economy back into recession.
The only bright patch has been China where growth is
reviving after seven quarters of slowdown, leading to some
optimism about demand from the world's top energy consumer.
"The weaker ECB story will weigh on Brent prices and (ECB
President Mario) Draghi's comments will weigh on expectations,"
said Jonathan Barret, chief executive officer at BarratBulletin,
a Sydney-based research firm.
"The big picture is that Europe is weak, U.S. is undecided
and China is strong, so the news flow from these three will be
what determines prices," he added.
Front-month Brent futures added 25 cents to $107.28
per barrel at 0307 GMT, after dropping for four straight
sessions. For the week, Brent was down 3.6 percent, its biggest
such loss since the week ended Oct. 19.
U.S. crude rose 28 cents to $86.54 per barrel, but
was down nearly 3 percent for the week, it first such decline in
five weeks and the steepest drop since the week ended Oct. 26.
EUROPE, U.S. WOES
Economic worries from both sides of the Atlantic have curbed
investor appetite for riskier assets in recent months, dragging
down the Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a
bellwether for commodities, about 4 percent so far this quarter.
There was some relief after Greece secured a deal with its
international lenders, but concerns about Europe were reignited
as ECB's subdued forecasts pointed to a higher likelihood of
contraction in the economy in 2013, confirming the assessment
the three-year old debt crisis was nowhere close to resolution.
Adding to the jitters was the political impasse on the U.S.
With little to show after a month of posturing, the White
House and Republicans in Congress dropped hints on Thursday that
they had resumed low-level private talks on breaking the
stalemate but refused to divulge details.
While investors are reasonably confident that a resolution
will be reached before the deadline, they are turning
risk-averse as the deadline draws closer with no agreement in
A mixed batch of economic data from the world's largest
economy is not helping the outlook either, as manufacturing
slipped to a three-year low in November the service sector grew
and jobless claims came in lower than expected.
On Friday, investors will focus on key non-farm payrolls
numbers for November, which may show a slowdown in the aftermath
of Superstorm Sandy which devastated the northeastern coast of
United States and disrupted business.
Investors were also monitoring developments in the Middle
East where a worsening political crisis in Egypt, an escalating
civil conflict in Syria and sabre-rattling by Israel has
heightened worries about oil supply from the region.
(Editing by Himani Sarkar)