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Economy in Brief

Gasoline Prices Move To High End Of Recent Range As Crude Oil Prices Firm
by Tom Moeller   October 19, 2010

After having been somewhat soft in recent weeks, the pump price for regular gasoline rebounded to $2.83 per gallon. Nevertheless,  prices remained down from $2.91 in early-May. The moderate economic recovery of the last year has been enough to help pull prices up 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 rose to $2.22 vs. $2.21 last week.

Crude oil prices also have firmed. Last week's average price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil (WTI) of $82.17 was near the highest since May. Yesterday crude prices rose further to $83.08 per barrel. U.S. natural gas prices held steady last week at an average of $3.50 per mmbtu but that was down from $3.91 during September. Yesterday, prices fell further to $3.37 and were down from an early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline fell during the latest week by 1.1% versus one year ago. The weakening followed increases above 2% through August. The demand for residual fuel oil also fell by 13.7% versus last year but distillate demand rose 8.8% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products have been rising since the winter and were up 4.3% during the last twelve months.

The energy price data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database. The daily figures are in DAILY and the gasoline demand figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Prices 10/18/10 10/11/10 10/04/10 Y/Y% 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.83 2.82 2.73 10.1 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 82.17 82.37 78.42 8.5 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.50 3.50 3.78 -10.7 3.95 8.88 6.97
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