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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Are Trending Higher
by Tom Moeller April 6,2010

There's, of course, been w/w volatility, but the cost of regular gasoline seems secure in its upward trend. Last week the price for a gallon rose to $2.83, up a nickel from last month, up twenty cents from December, and up by three-quarters since December of 2008. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline was up another eleven cents from last week's average. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

Higher crude oil costs are part of what's behind the rise in gasoline prices. The price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) rose last week to $83.29 from $80.64 the prior week and was more than double the December 2008 low of $32.37. Yesterday, the spot price rose further to $86.82.

Improved demand for gasoline has been part of the story driving prices higher. Demand for gasoline slipped 0.5% last week versus one year ago but that compares with a 3.0% decline in early-February. The demand for residual fuel oil rose a lessened 2.8% but distillate demand fell 1.5% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products were stable through much of last month and were down slightly from one year ago.

U.S. natural gas prices continued to slide last week to an average $4.03 per mmbtu (+2.6% y/y). Prices reached a high of $6.50 early in January. Nevertheless, prices remained nearly double the September low.

The 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.

The Housing Drag on Core Inflation from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here here.

Weekly Prices 04/05/10 3/29/10 03/22/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.83 2.80 2.82 38.7% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 83.29 80.64 81.46 65.5% 61.39 100.16 72.25
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