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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Remained Just Above $1.90; Demand Stabilizing
by Tom Moeller March 3, 2009

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, regular gasoline prices rose two cents last week and the increase left them in the middle of the $1.89 to $1.96 range in place since early February. At an average $1.93 per gallon prices remained near their recent high, up 32 cents from the December low. Yesterday, the spot market price for regular gasoline reversed course and fell to $1.22, down eight cents from Friday and down eight cents from the early February high of $1.32 per gallon.

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

Downward momentum in gasoline demand continued to ease last week according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The year-to-year change of -0.5% compared to its worst comparison of -4.8% last October after gasoline prices were hitting their peak. The change in demand is the latest four weeks versus the same four weeks in 2008. Demand for all petroleum products was down 0.8% year-to-year after the -8.0% comparison last October. These numbers are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude rose last week to $41.81 per barrel. Like gasoline, crude oil prices have been trading this year in a tight range between $37.00 and $44.50 per barrel. Prices reached a high of $145.66 last July. In futures trading yesterday, the one-month price for crude oil was $40.15 per barrel. Last week's average was $42.18.

The price of natural gas fell further last week to $4.16 per mmbtu (-54.7% y/y), the lowest level since September 2006. The latest average price was down more than two-thirds from the high reached in early-July of $13.19/mmbtu.

Weekly Prices 03/02/09 02/23/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 1.93 1.91 -38.8% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 41.81 36.99 -58.6% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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