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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Lowest Since 2005
by Tom Moeller December 2, 2008

Last week, the pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline was at its lowest level since early 2005 according to the U.S. Department of Energy survey. At $1.81 per gallon prices fell roughly 60 cents per gallon during just the last four weeks and they have now fallen $2.30 per gallon, or by 56%, since their peak early this past July. The latest decline was accompanied by a drop in the average price for all grades of gasoline to $1.87 per gallon.

Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell another four cents from last week's average to $1.14. In futures trading the December contract closed down further at $1.11 per gallon.

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

The U.S. Department of Energy reported that the demand for gasoline fell by 3.3% y/y. The rate of decline has bottomed out recently but the decline is still the fastest since late-1995 (the latest four weeks versus the same four weeks last year). The demand for all petroleum products also fell 6.6% y/y.

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

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil last week ticked up to an average $52.50 per barrel, down by two-thirds since the peak in July of $145.66. In futures trading yesterday, the two-month price for crude oil was even lower at $49.28 per barrel.

Last week, prices for natural gas were stable at $6.66 per mmbtu (-10.4% y/y). The latest average price was nearly one-half below the high for natural gas prices in early-July of $13.19/mmbtu.

Federal Reserve Policies in the Financial Crisis is yesterday's speech by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and it can be found here.

Weekly Prices 12/01/08 11/24/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 1.81 1.89 -40.8% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 52.50 52.34 -43.2% 72.25 66.12 56.60
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