NEW YORK, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Oil prices moved modestly lower in early Friday trading as investors balanced U.S. economic data against bets on the next move from the Federal Reserve.
Oil prices contracted in overnight trading after heavy gains sparked Thursday by reports that Iran's oil minister would attend talks in Algeria, where some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries may consider extraordinary action to stabilize the markets. Some market watchers have interpreted that move as renewed support for an early 2016 production freeze proposal, though Tehran said Friday it was still keen on regaining ground lost to sanctions.
Oil prices were uneven early Friday, following expressions by some producers that intervention wasn't necessary, while others brushed off the influence of market forces alone. The price for Brent crude oil was 0.3 percent lower to start the day at 49.53 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil prices, was relatively flat to open the day in New York at $47.37 per barrel.
Negative pressure emerged Friday morning when the U.S. government said second quarter gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.1 percent, down from the previous estimate of 1.2 percent.
"With this second estimate for the second quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same; revisions to the components of GDP are small," the Commerce Department explained.
Any market reaction will be muted as investors wait for Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to take the podium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., this morning. She's scheduled to deliver remarks about a half hour after the markets open in New York.
At issue is whether the U.S. economy can cope with a hike in interest rates. Crude oil prices moved lower early this week in reaction to remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer who said the decline in the price of oil was "a source of concern, as it was understood that the decline in investment in the production and installation of drilling equipment mitigated the blessing, as did the decline in U.S. oil production."