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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Higher With Crude Oil Costs
by Tom Moeller  January 04, 2011

Reports of improvement in economies worldwide have lent strength to energy prices. Last week, the pump price for regular gasoline rose another two cents to $3.07 per gallon following the prior week's seven cent rise. Prices were the firmest since October 2008 and were up from the December-2008 low of $1.61. Yesterday the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline of $2.45 was up another three cents from last week's average. Typically, pump prices decline this time of year due to lessened seasonal demand. To account for this pattern Haver Analytics calculates seasonal factors and the adjusted gasoline price slipped to $3.58 per gallon from the high during the prior week of $3.62.

Crude oil prices also firmed last week to $90.82 per barrel of light sweet crude (WTI). Yesterday, the crude price rose further to $91.55 per barrel. Here again, normal seasonal factors are looking for lower crude prices. The seasonally adjusted cost of a barrel of crude oil fell to $105.06 per barrel as calculated by Haver Analytics.

Lastly, natural gas prices rose to an average of $4.14 per mmbtu versus $3.49 during October. Yesterday, prices jumped to $4.51 but still were down from last year's early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline increased 2.9% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil jumped 17.7% and distillate demand rose 4.9% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products rose a greatly lessened 1.1% 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 Price 1/3/11 12/27/10 12/20/10 Y/Y% 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.07 3.05 2.98 15.2 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI($ per bbl.) 90.82 90.18 88.25 14.8 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.14 4.08 4.23 -29.5 3.95 8.88 6.97
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