(London) Oil prices hovered around the balance on Friday, between the slowdown in the American economy, fears of a global recession and the imminent cuts in production by some OPEC countries as well as the arrival of the season. the driving.

Around 5:45 a.m. (Eastern time) (11:45 a.m. in Paris), the barrel of Brent from the North Sea for delivery in June, of which it is the last day of quotation, gained 0.54%, at $78.79.

Its American equivalent, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), for delivery the same month, lost 0.25%, to 74.59 dollars.

The slowdown in the US economy was confirmed in the first quarter, reflecting on crude prices by rekindling apprehensions of less robust demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the United States was only 1.1% annualized, the first tangible sign of the effects of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) rate hike over the past year to fight against inflation.

This represents “a sharp drop from the 2.6% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 and is well below the 2% expected by economists”, points out Stephen Brennock, analyst for PVM Energy.

“Oil is an asset that is particularly sensitive to fears of a global economic slowdown,” says Jameel Ahmad of Compare Broker, and “the downward trend in its prices throughout the week has not failed to reflect that sensibility,” he continues.

That said, “demand concerns are not yet supported by hard data,” recalls Carsten Fritsch of Commerzbank, who points out that gasoline consumption rose sharply in the United States last week.

Moreover, it peaks during the summer months, he says, with American driving season, a nickname given to a period from late May to early September when Americans go on vacation in car.

Since the close of trade last Friday, Brent and WTI have fallen more than 4%, losing all the gains accumulated since the announcement of voluntary production cuts by several members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (OPEC) earlier this month.

These cuts must take place in May, and should be in effect until the end of 2023.

The supply from OPEC should therefore be reduced by around one million barrels per day from Monday, thus providing some support to the price of crude.