NEW YORK, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices stood pat in early Friday trading, as a midweek rally was offset by lingering concerns of macroeconomic growth and geopolitical issues.
Brent, the global benchmark for crude oil prices, was up about 0.3 percent in early Friday trading to $48.95 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, was relatively unchanged from the previous close to start trading in New York at $46.02. Both indices are up more than 3 percent for the week, but down at least 1 percent from the start of October.
A string of earnings reports out this week offered few signs of optimism for the depressed oil economy. While announcing third-quarter profits that were off about 50 percent from last year, BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said the industry was navigating what is turning out to be a "sustained period of lower oil prices."
Crude oil prices are lower in part because markets are oversupplied at a time when global economic growth is weak to non-existent. Though energy companies are reported steep declines in profits, most issuing earnings this week said their overall production rates increased in the third quarter.
While lower energy prices are acting as a de facto stimulus for consumers, spending is slowing in major world economies. The U.S. Commerce Department reported personal income and disposable income both increased by 0.1 percent in September, against a 0.4 percent gain in the previous month.
Meanwhile, diplomats from more than a dozen countries, including Iran, are meeting this week in Vienna to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russian military intervention on the side of its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pushed crude oil prices up in late September.
"That doesn't mean that at this stage in the discussion on political transition [in Damascus] that either should be excluded," he said.