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Economy in Brief

Gasoline Prices Rise To Their Highest Since Early-November
by Tom Moeller May 12, 2009

Regular gasoline prices last week continued their recent rise and settled at $2.24 per gallon last week. That price was up 63 cents (39.1%) from the December low and it was the highest level since November. Yesterday, cash market prices were higher still at $1.65 per gallon versus $1.59 averaged last week and it was the highest price since last October. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & Daily databases.

The gasoline price rise continues to reflect, in part, higher crude oil prices. Prices averaged $56.00 last week for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate, up $4.90 from the prior week and up from the December low of $32.37 per barrel. Yesterday, crude oil prices rose even further to $58.50. Prices reached a high of $145.66 last July. The latest increases occurred despite a 3.9% rise in crude oil production versus last year. The figures on crude oil production and inventories are available in Haver's Weekly Oil Statistics database.

Higher gasoline prices and economic weakness have lowered miles-driven, though the rate of decline has eased. Gasoline demand last week fell 2.4% y/y versus the 4.8% rate of decline seen last October. 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 7.9% y/y led by a 39.3% drop in demand for residual fuel oil and a 15.8% drop in distillate demand. The price gains have occurred despite an 11.7% rise in inventories of crude oil & petroleum products. These numbers are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The price of natural gas rose last week to $3.78 per mmbtu (-66.1% y/y) and it was the first w/w increase since March. Near the lowest level since 2002, the latest average price was down by three-quarters from the high reached in early-July of $13.19/mmbtu.

The Impact of Inflation and Unemployment on Subjective Personal and Country Evaluation from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Weekly Prices 05/11/09 05/04/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.24 2.08 -39.8% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 56.00 51.07 -54.5% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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