NEW YORK, March 25 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices were mixed in the early stages of Friday trading after figures showed fourth quarter growth in the United States had slowed.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported real gross domestic production increased at an annual rate of 1.4 percent during the fourth quarter, compared with 2.0 percent GDP growth during third quarter 2015.
Crude oil prices faced negative pressure earlier this week amid signs of slow hiring in the United States. Brent crude oil was relatively flat in early Friday trading at $40.50 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was down 0.5 percent to $39.59 per barrel. Trading was light because of observations for the Good Friday religious holiday on the Christian calendar.
While a slight revision upward from previous reports, the Commerce Department said corporate profits declined for the second straight quarter. For full-year 2015, the department estimated the economy grew at a rate of 2.4 percent, the same rate as the previous year.
Crude oil prices recovered from heavy losses early Thursday after oilfield services company Baker Hughes released its weekly report on rig counts a day early because of Good Friday. After a mixed report the previous week, Baker Hughes data show the United States lost 12 rigs during the week ending March 24.
Crude oil prices are off about 2.4 percent for the week, though are up strongly from levels below $30 per barrel reported earlier in the year.
In supporting its decision to downgrade the credit rating for Italian energy company Eni, Standard & Poor's said it expected crude oil prices to average $40 per barrel for the year.