(New York) Oil prices fell very slightly on Friday, in a thin market, which accentuated price movements, the day after the announcement of Angola’s exit from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC).

The price of a barrel of Brent from the North Sea, for delivery in February, fell 0.40% to $79.07.

Its American equivalent, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), for delivery the same month, lost 0.44% to 73.56 dollars.

On Monday, due to the Christmas holiday, commodity markets will be closed.

Prices rebounded slightly during the session driven by the situation in the Red Sea, “where security risks weigh on supplies,” recalled Han Tan, Exinity analyst.

A senior official of Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels said this week that his group’s attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea would stop only “if Israel stops its crimes and food, medicine and fuel reaches the besieged population” of the Gaza Strip, as part of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Several shipping giants still avoid the Red Sea entry or exit point, the strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from Africa.

This is the case of the British oil and gas major BP, which indicated on Monday that it was suspending all transit in the Red Sea.

More than 20 countries have now joined the US-led coalition to defend maritime traffic in the area.

Added to these uncertainties are other “favorable factors for oil prices”, such as the pivot in monetary policy of the American central bank (Fed), which seems to have said goodbye “to rate increases that destroy demand”, continues the Exinity analyst.

On Friday, the U.S. PCE inflation index for November came in weaker than expected at 2.6% year-on-year, the lowest since 2021. This is “the best economic news in a long time, and comes just in time for the holiday season,” commented Robert Frick, economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

These figures confirmed market expectations for a sharp decline in Fed interest rates next year. And lower rates mean a weaker dollar, which traditionally should support demand for black gold, which is denominated in dollars.

On Thursday, the announced departure of Angola from the OEP, against a backdrop of disagreement over oil production quotas, caused a decline in the prices of the two world crude oil benchmarks.

The country is contesting the 1.11 million barrels/day quota set for it by OPEC, with Angola aiming for its own target of 1.18 million barrels/d.

“Once Africa’s largest producer, the country’s production has collapsed by 40% in 8 years due to an unfavorable fiscal environment and the absence of new investments,” says Ipek Ozkardeskaya, analyst at Swissquote, interviewed by AFP, and citing figures from Bloomberg.