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Economy in Brief

Stability Describes Recent Energy Price Movement
by Tom Moeller   September 29, 2010

Tracking gasoline prices this Summer required little more than a ruler as the pump price for regular gasoline moved sideways near last week's level of $2.69 per gallon. Prices remained down from $2.91 in early-May. Nevertheless, pulled higher with recovery from the last recession, prices have risen from the late-2009 level of $2.61 and from the December-2008 low of $1.61. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline also was steady at $1.97 vs. $1.96 last week.

The average price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil (WTI) slipped last week to $73.93 and there has been greater fluctuation in prices since July. The latest remained down from the high of $84.23 averaged during April. Yesterday crude prices held at $76.18 per barrel. U.S. natural gas prices also were stable last week at an average of $4.02, up slightly from $3.82 per mmbtu at the beginning of the month. Yesterday, prices slipped back and were down from an early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline held roughly constant during the latest week versus one year ago. The demand for residual fuel oil fell by 9.2% versus last year but distillate demand rose a strengthened 12.9% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products have been rising since the winter and were up 2.4% during the last twelve months.

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.

Weekly Prices 09/27/10 09/20/10 09/13/10 Y/Y % 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.69 2.72 2.72 7.8 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 73.93 75.65 74.87 8.1 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.02 4.02 3.82 15.5 3.95 8.88 6.97
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