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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Move Higher
by Tom MoellerMarch 16, 2010

Petroleum prices are on the rise with the improved economy. The pump price for regular gasoline rose another four cents last week to $2.79 per gallon which is up by three-quarters since December of 2008. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline reversed a piece of that increase and fell by three cents. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) rose last week to $81.76 though it remained down slightly from the early-January high of $82.59. Prices have risen from $71.53 early this past December and are more than double the December 2008 low of $32.37. Yesterday, the upward trend eased and the spot price fell to $79.80.

Demand for gasoline fell 1.8% last week versus one year ago. That decline compared to a 3.9% increase at the beginning of October. The demand for residual fuel oil spiked by one-third with falling temperatures in the Northeast & Midwest. However, distillate demand fell 6.1% y/y, a decline more moderate than the 21.6% y/y shortfall at the beginning of last July. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped in early-March and were roughly unchanged from one year ago.

U.S. natural gas prices fell further last week to an average $4.46 per mmbtu (+14.9% y/y) despite heavy snow storms through much of the U.S. Prices reached a high of $6.50 early in January. Nevertheless, prices remained double the September low.

Weekly Prices 03/15/10 03/08/10 03/01/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.79 2.75 2.70 46.0% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 81.76 80.19 79.26 79.0% 61.39 100.16 72.25
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