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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Gasoline Prices Move Higher
by Tom Moeller January 5, 2010

Evidence of a U.S. economic recovery has given life to energy prices. The pump price for regular gasoline rose to $2.67 per gallon last week, the highest level since early-November. Gasoline prices remain up from the December '08 low of $1.61. Further strength in prices was evident yesterday when the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline jumped to $2.10 per gallon from $2.01 the prior week and from $1.85 at the beginning of December. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

Strength also was evident in the price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) oil. Yesterday, the nearby futures price jumped to $81.51 from $79.07 averaged last week and from $71.53 averaged in early-December. Moreover, prices were up sharply from the December '08 low of $32.37. Inflation May Be the Next Dragon to Slay from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here .

Demand for gasoline leveled off last week and posted a 0.2% decline versus one year ago. That decline compared to a 3.9% increase at the beginning of October. Breaking away from earlier y/y strength, the demand for residual fuel oil fell a sharp 28.6% y/y while distillate demand fell 8.8% y/y, a decline more moderate than the 21.6% y/y shortfall at the beginning of last July.

Natural gas prices also strengthened significantly with the winter heating season. Last week prices averaged $5.87 per mmbtu (3.9% y/y), up from the November low of $3.35. Nevertheless, prices remained down by more than half from the high reached in early-July of 2008 of $13.19/mmbtu.

The weekly energy price data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database while the daily figures are in DAILY. The gasoline demand figures are in OILWKLY

Weekly Prices 01/04/10 12/28/09 12/21/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.67 2.61 2.59 58.3% 3.25 2.80 2.57
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 79.14 75.09 71.77 86.2% 100.16 72.25 66.12
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