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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Up to $3.79 per Gallon. "Seasonal" Will Raise The CPI Report
by Tom Moeller May 20, 2008

The retail price for a gallon of regular gasoline surged seven cents last week to $3.79 per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy survey. That followed an eleven cent increase during the prior week. So far in May prices have risen 25 cents from the April average after that month's 21 cent jump.

During April, a 6.6% surge in the average price of gasoline translated into a 2.0% decline in prices in the April CPI report. The difference was due to seasonal factors. In the CPI report the data are seasonally adjusted and the factor "expected" a 7.7% increase based on historical April price patterns. For May, however, the gas price increase will boost the CPI as the seasonal expects a 3.6% increase and actual prices already have risen by 7.3%. (These numbers don't work out exactly due to product type differences).

Spot market prices for gasoline rose further yesterday. The wholesale price for a gallon of non-oxygenated gasoline was $3.11 per gallon, up five cents from last week's average.

The price of a barrel of WTI crude oil rose ten dollars from the last week of April to $124.94. Yesterday prices rose further to a record $127.06.

Natural gas prices recently have moved slightly lower. Yesterday's wholesale price of natural gas at $11.10 per mmbtu was down from Friday's record price and down from last week's average of $11.34/mmbtu. Prices are still nearly double this time last year.

Weekly gasoline prices can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database, daily prices are found in the DAILY database.

FOMC Consensus Forecasts from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Weekly Prices 05/19/08 05/05/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 3.79 3.72 17.8% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 124.94 123.0 96.4% 72.25 66.12 56.60
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