NEW YORK -- The price of oil is little changed as heated rhetoric in Washington offsets forecasts for colder temperatures in areas where U.S. homeowners rely on oil for heat.

Benchmark crude slipped 24 cents to $93.90 a barrel in midday trading in New York. The contract rose 58 cents to finish at $94.15 per barrel in New York Monday, partly due to expectations of chilly weather in the Northeast.

The dispute in Washington about the U.S. debt ceiling worries oil investors, who fear a reprise of the standoff in the summer of 2011. Standard & Poor's cut the U.S. credit rating that August and oil dropped about 7 per cent for the month.

President Barack Obama warned of dire consequences if Congress fails to increase the government's borrowing authority. "Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire," the president said.

Concerns about weakening economic growth in Germany and forecasts for a rise in U.S. crude stockpiles also weighed on oil prices.

Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was down 38 cents to $110.57 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

-- Wholesale gasoline was down 2 cents at $2.73 a gallon.

-- Natural gas was flat at $3.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.

-- Heating oil fell 1 cent to $3.06 a gallon.