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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Dip While Crude Oil Prices Rise
by Tom Moeller March 17, 2009

Regular gasoline prices dipped last week to $1.91 per gallon. That's at the bottom end of the $1.89 to $1.96 range in place since early February. Nevertheless the latest was up 30 cents from the December low. Yesterday, the spot market price for regular gasoline rose from Friday to $1.27 per gallon, up from $1.20 averaged last week. These prices compare to those that were slightly below $1.00 at the end of last year. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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

Gasoline demand has recovered due to the earlier declines in prices. The latest y/y change of -0.8% moderated from the 4.8% rate of decline seen last October. (Gasoline prices at the time were just off their peak.) The change in demand is measured using the latest four weeks versus the same four weeks in 2008. Demand for all petroleum products was down 2.1% y/y after the -8.0% comparison last October. These numbers are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The rise in gasoline prices reflects the modest firming of crude oil prices. For a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil, prices rose last week to $45.68, up 41% from the December low of $32.37 per barrel. Prices reached a high of $145.66 last July. In futures trading yesterday, the one-month price for crude oil rose even further to $47.35 per barrel.

The price of natural gas continued to slide last week with a sharp decline to $3.88 per mmbtu (-60.2% y/y), the lowest level since 2002. The latest average price was down more than two-thirds from the high reached in early-July of $13.19/mmbtu.

Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2004 to 2007: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances from the Federal Reserve Board can be found here.

Weekly Prices 03/16/09 03/09/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 1.91 1.94 -41.8% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 45.68 43.26 -58.3% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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