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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Move Up But Crude Oil Is Down
by Tom Moeller  January 25, 2011

Gasoline prices know only one way to go; higher. Last week, the pump price for regular gasoline rose another penny to $3.11 per gallon and mirrored the prior week's uptick. Prices were the firmest since October 2008 and were nearly double the December-2008 low of $1.61. However, yesterday the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline bucked the trend and slipped four 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 rose to $3.35 per gallon.

Crude oil prices fell last week to $89.80 per barrel of light sweet crude (WTI). The price compares to an average $79.51 during all of last year. Yesterday, the crude oil price fell further to $86.67 per barrel, the lowest since November. The seasonally adjusted cost of a barrel of crude oil slipped to $98.57 per barrel as calculated by Haver Analytics.

Lastly, natural gas prices improved to an average of $4.58 per mmbtu. Prices are up from the low $3.49 during October. Yesterday, prices rose further to $4.72 but still were down from last year's early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline increased 2.0% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, jumped 2.8% and distillate demand rose 0.9% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products rose a greatly lessened 0.7% 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 1/24/11 1/17/11 1/10/11 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.11 3.10 3.09 15.0% 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI($ per bbl.) 89.80 91.03 89.53 17.0 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.58 4.47 4.51 -17.7 4.40 3.95 8.88
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