LONDON  - Oil prices steadied on Friday as markets awaited an 11th-hour meeting between US President Barack Obama and congressional leaders over a deal to avert next year’s “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, added 10 cents to $90.97 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for February dipped eight cents to $110.72 a barrel in London morning deals.

Traders welcomed news of Obama’s meeting, which was to take place on Friday after the president cut short his Christmas vacation in Hawaii. “They are trying to at least come up with something before the year comes to an end, so Obama shortening his holiday and coming back... I think that is a plus point,” IG trading group analyst Yang Weiming told AFP.

Obama on Thursday returned to a sharply divided Washington, where the mood has soured on a possible plan to prevent hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes and spending cuts from kicking in next week.

Analysts fear that the package will tip the United States — the world’s biggest consumer of crude oil — back into recession, denting demand for energy.