© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Idle oil production equipment is seen in a Halliburton yard in Williston

(Reuters) – Halliburton (NYSE:) Co on Monday called the bottom of a pricing downturn that has plagued oilfield services companies and surprised on expectations saying first-quarter activity levels in North America were modestly higher from a year earlier.

Oilfield services providers have been struggling with a tightening of spending by oil producers looking to rein in new drilling in response to shareholder pressure for greater returns after a period of heavy investment.

In contrast to the sector’s other major player Schlumberger NV (NYSE:) last week, Halliburton said activity in its largest market in North America was modestly higher.

“We believe the worst in the pricing deterioration is now behind us,” Halliburton’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Miller said, adding that it experienced pricing headwinds throughout the quarter. The company also said it expects demand for its services to progress modestly for the next couple of quarters.

Revenue from North America, Halliburton’s biggest market, fell 7 percent to $3.3 billion in the three months ended Mar. 31 but came in above the 3.13 billion that 5 analysts had estimated, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue was largely flat at $5.74 billion.

Net income attributable to Halliburton rose to $152 million, or 17 cents per share, in the first quarter, from $46 million, or 5 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the Houston-based company earned 23 cents per share, above analysts’ average estimates of 22 cents.

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