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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Highest Since December
by Tom Moeller February 10, 2009

According to the U.S. Department of Energy survey, regular gasoline prices last week continued their upward movement in place since late December. At an average $1.93 per gallon, prices have increased 31 cents from the low. And the up-move continues. Though prices fell slightly yesterday from Friday, the spot market price for regular gasoline at $1.28 per gallon was still higher versus last week's average.

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

Perhaps the shortfall in demand is easing and that is lifting prices. Gasoline demand continued down year-to-year in reaction to the economy's weakness, the U.S. Department of Energy reported. But the year-to-year shortfall eased to -2.4% from its worst comparison of -4.8% last October (the latest four weeks versus the same four weeks in 2008). The decline in the demand for all petroleum products also eased to -2.8% y/y. These numbers are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude fell back last week to $40.50 per barrel from the average $41.72 during January. Prices reached a high of $145.66 last July. In futures trading yesterday, the one-month price for crude oil fell versus last week to $40.08 per barrel, down sharply from one week ago.

The price of natural gas was roughly stable last week at $4.84 per mmbtu (-38.7% y/y). The latest average price was down roughly two-thirds from the high reached in early-July of $13.19/mmbtu.

The Current Financial Crisis: What Should We Learn from the Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is available here.

Weekly Prices 02/09/09 02/02/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 1.93 1.89 -34.9% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 40.50 42.52 -54.50% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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