NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were mixed on Friday as crude oil pared losses and as debt discussions between Greece and eurozone finance ministers continued.
The S&P 500 was down 0.11%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, and the Nasdaq added 0.05%.
West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.31% to $51 a barrel, recovering from losses of over 1% earlier in the day. Oil services company Baker Hughes (BHI) is expected to show a further drop in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil in data expected to be released at 1 p.m. EST. The firm reported a decline in oil rigs to their lowest level since August 2011 last week.
However, oil prices remain at half their mid-summer high as a drop in U.S. rig counts and a number of oilers cutting future investments isn't seen as enough to remedy global oversupply and tepid demand. On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration reported a sixth straight weekly increase in U.S. crude inventories, which were already at record levels.
The Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index increased to 54.3 from 53.9 in January, its highest reading since November. Though higher, the reading reinforces recent data showing slower growth in the U.S. economy, particularly in its industrial and manufacturing sectors.
Adding to uncertainty on markets Friday, eurozone finance ministers headed into another meeting to discuss Greece's debt concerns.
"With details still to be worked out, expectations are for negotiations to continue into the weekend and this creates a bit of event-risk for our market ahead of next week's Humphrey Hawkins, [Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress]," said CRT Capital Group's Ian Lyngen.
Greece has been in negotiation with eurozone finance ministers since last week, discussing terms of a potential new debt package. Earlier this week, Greece requested a six-month extension to its current loan but Germany rejected the request after Greece refused to adhere to previous austerity measures in place.
"We are not discussing the continuation of the program," said Greek spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis in a statement. "The Greek government will maintain this stance today, although conditions have matured for a solution to be found at last."
Heavy machinery maker Deere (DE) was down 0.28% after it forecast a drop in sales on weaker demand in the global farm sector, particularly for agricultural machinery. Quarterly earnings of $1.12 a share slipped from $1.81 a share a year earlier.
Noodles (NDLS) plummeted more than 28% after missing analysts' estimates on its top- and bottom-lines. Comparable-restaurant sales increased 1.3% over the quarter. Nordstrom (JWN) was up 4.3% despite reporting fourth-quarter profit of $1.32 a share, 3 cents short of estimates.
The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart (WMT) was flat following a 3% drop on Thursday on light guidance and a quarterly revenue miss. Shares appeared unaffected by ratings revisions from Barclays and Goldman Sachs, analysts of which predicted investments in labor would hurt profits.
Business activity in the eurozone showed signs of increasing growth momentum. In February, the region's PMI rose to a seven-month high of 53.5, boosted by strength in Germany, its largest economy, and France. European markets were mixed with France's CAC 40 down, but Germany's DAX and the FTSE 100 in London posting modest gains.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.