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Economy in Brief

Weekly Gasoline Prices Slip While Crude Oil Prices Strengthen
by Tom Moeller October 13, 2009

The pump price for regular gasoline fell again last week to $2.47 per gallon, the lowest level since mid-July. However, these prices remain up from the December low of $1.61. Recently, prices reversed the trend and the wholesale gasoline price rose to $1.82 per gallon, up eight cents from the September low. Prices had reached a high in early-August of $2.03. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

Running counter to gasoline prices, crude oil prices recently firmed and light sweet crude oil prices (WTI) rose to $70.86 per barrel last week, up from the December low of $32.37. Yesterday, the spot market price for light sweet crude oil rose even further to $73.27 per barrel.

The demand for gasoline shot up last week and posted a 3.2% rise versus one year ago. The gain was the strongest since the Fall of 2006. Demand for residual fuel oil eased, however and fell 7.3% y/y while distillate demand fell 11.0% y/y. Finally, oil remains plentiful as evidenced by a 15.0% y/y rise in inventories of crude oil & petroleum products. Inventories of gasoline have surged and are up 14.8% versus last year. The figures on crude oil production and inventories are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

Natural gas prices increased again last week, ahead of the Winter heating season, to an average of $3.63 per mmbtu (-45.8% y/y) but they remained down by three-quarters from the high reached in early-July of last year of $13.19/mmbtu. Yesterday prices increased further to $4.00/mmbtu.

The Effects of Recessions Across Demographic Groups from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Weekly Prices 10/5/09 09/28/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.47 2.50 -29.2% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 70.86 68.99 -17.8% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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