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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Down Last Week, Demand Off By Most in Three Years
by Tom Moeller September 30, 2008

The U.S. pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell by nine cents last week to the lowest level since early May. The decline to an average of $3.63, according to the U.S. Department of Energy survey, was accompanied by a drop in the average price for all grades of gasoline to $3.77 per gallon.

Yesterday the spot market price for regular gasoline plunged twenty nine cents per gallon to $2.42. The drop lowered spot prices to their lowest since late this past March. In futures trading the November contract closed at $2.40 per gallon.

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

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the demand for gasoline fell 1.8% during the last four weeks. That was the largest weekly decline since early 2005 and for the most part reflected the seasonal decline in driving. The weakness in gasoline demand goes beyond that, however, and it was down 3.4% y/y, also the most since mid-2005.

The DOE figures are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose last week to an average $110.31 per barrel, still down from the high in July of $145.66. Damage to oil rigs from Hurricane Ike was again responsible for the increase. WTI crude prices were down to $96.38 /bbl. yesterday.

Yesterday, the futures price for crude oil also stood at $96.37 per barrel.

Last week, prices for natural gas fell slightly to an average $7.75 per mmbtu (+22.8% y/y). Prices fell further yesterday to $7.14/mmbtu. The high for natural gas prices was in early July at $13.19/mmbtu.

Weekly Prices 09/29/08 09/22/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 3.63 3.72 30.3% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 110.31 97.29 34.4% 72.25 66.12 56.60
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