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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Fell Further to Their Lowest Since 2004
by Tom Moeller December 9, 2008

The pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell last week to $1.70, the lowest level since early 2005 according to the U.S. Department of Energy survey. The latest price was down eleven cents per gallon from the prior week and that was down by more than half since the peak early this past July. The latest decline was accompanied by a drop in the average price for all grades of gasoline to $1.76 per gallon.

Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline was up slightly from Friday's level but the six cent rise to $92 cents per gallon recouped just roughly half of Friday's decline. Last week spot prices averaged $1.02 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 3.5% 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 6.2% 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 fell by roughly seven dollars from last week's average to $45.50 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 stood at $46.36.

Last week, prices for natural gas fell to $6.44 per mmbtu (-10.1% y/y). The latest average price was nearly one-half below the high for natural gas prices in early-July of $13.19/mmbtu.

Assessing the Potential for Instability in Financial Market is yesterday's speech by Fed Governor Randall S. Kroszner and it can be found here.

Weekly Prices 12/08/08 12/01/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 1.70 1.81 -43.4% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 45.50 52.50 -48.7% 72.25 66.12 56.60
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