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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Remain In Sideways Trend
by Tom Moeller   November 02, 2010

Sideways has typified the gasoline price trend for some time. The pump price for regular gasoline slipped to $2.81 per gallon last week, down one penny w/w. Prices have been slightly above or below the current level, but are close to where they were in late-March. Before that, moderate economic recovery during the last year was 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 was $2.15 vs. $2.12 averaged during last week.

Crude oil prices also have been firm, but recently have trended sideways. Last week's average price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil (WTI) of $82.02 was near the early-October level which was the highest since May. Yesterday crude prices held at $82.95 per barrel. Natural gas prices slipped again last week to an average of $3.31 per mmbtu but that was down from $3.91 during September. Yesterday, prices recovered somewhat to $3.43 but remained down from an early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline fell during the latest week by 0.8% versus one year ago. Due to the weaker economy and higher prices, the drop in demand followed increases above 2% through August. The demand for residual fuel oil fell by more than one-third versus last year but distillate demand rose 8.7% 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 11/01/10 10/25/10 10/18/10 Y/Y% 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.81 2.82 2.83 4.2 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI($ per bbl.) 82.02 81.12 82.17 4.5 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.31 3.37 3.50 -24.3 3.95 8.88 6.97
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