Oil reverses gains, ends lower

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

(NEW YORK) CNNMoney.com -- Oil prices reversed gains Friday as recovery concerns persisted, despite a report showing that the U.S. economy grew last quarter at its fastest pace in more than six years.

What prices are doing: Crude oil for March delivery fell 75 cents to settle at $73.64 a barrel Friday.

Click the chart to view other commodity prices.

On Thursday, oil ended slightly lower at $73.64 a barrel as a selloff on Wall Street put traders on edge and the dollar strengthened.

What's driving prices: Early Friday, the government reported that the nation's gross domestic product -- the broadest measure of economic activity -- rose at a 5.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter.

That's significantly higher than the 4.7% rate analysts expected, and beat the 2.2% increase posted in the prior quarter. Stocks jumped on the news, boosting crude prices. But the gains were short-lived, and equities pared gains after the morning jump.

Crude prices fell as stocks drifted lower. Oil traders view the stock market as a leading indicator of economic growth and potential energy demand. As a result, oil prices have tended to fall in tandem with the major stock indexes.

What analysts are saying: "No matter what, people are looking for recovery to be a continuing trend," said Cameron Hanover analyst Peter Beutel. "[They] forget about GDP and will be look for additional numbers, asking, 'What's next?'"

He expects crude to trade in a range between $72.50 and $77.50 over the next week, though a continued cold weather snap could push prices slightly higher. To top of page

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