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Economy in Brief

Gasoline Prices Remain Steady Around $2.00 Per Gallon
by Tom Moeller April 21, 2009

Regular gasoline prices last week held firm at $2.06 per gallon, the highest level since last November. The latest was up 42 cents from the December low. On news of a weakening U.S. economy, however, the spot market price for regular gasoline slipped to $1.37 per gallon yesterday from its average of $1.42 last week. 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.

Crude oil prices weakened to an even greater degree due to soft economic news. The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate fell to $49.80 last week and to $45.88 yesterday. These prices remained up, however, from the December low of $32.37 per barrel. Prices reached a high of $145.66 last July. The figures on crude oil production and inventories are available in Haver's Weekly Oil Statistics database.

Higher gasoline prices and economic weakness are prompting less driving. Gasoline demand last week fell 2.4% y/y versus 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 5.2% y/y. That negative comparison was led by a 9.3% decline in distillate demand and a 19.7% drop in demand for residual fuel oil. These numbers are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The price of natural gas fell even further with the end to of winter heating season. Prices fell to $3.55 per mmbtu (-65.0% y/y) which was near 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.

The Economic Outlook is yesterday's speech by Fed Vice chairman Donald L. Kohn an it can be found here.

Weekly Prices 04/20/09 06/13/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.06 2.05 -41.3% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 49.80 50.46 -56.5% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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