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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Are Stable
by Tom Moeller  February 1, 2011

Last week, the pump price for regular gasoline retraced the penny increase of the prior week and slipped to $3.10 per gallon. Still, prices remained 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 rose to $2.48 from an average $2.41 last week. 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 held steady at $3.35 per gallon.

Crude oil prices fell last week to $86.85 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 $92.19 per barrel, the highest since September 2008. The seasonally adjusted cost of a barrel of crude oil fell to $94.34 per barrel as calculated by Haver Analytics.

Lastly, natural gas prices fell to an average of $4.45 per mmbtu. Prices are up from the low $3.49 during October. Yesterday, prices held at $4.44 and were down from last year's early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline increased 1.1% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell 6.1% and distillate demand slipped 0.6% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products rose a greatly lessened 1.4% 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 1/31/11 1/24/11 1/17/11 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.10 3.11 3.10 16.5% 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI($ per bbl.) 86.85 89.80 91.03 17.3 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.45 4.58 4.47 -18.5 4.40 3.95 8.88
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