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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Resume Rise
by Tom Moeller  February 9, 2011

Lately, gasoline prices have done little but rise. The pump price for regular gasoline last week rose three cents to $3.13 per gallon, its highest since October 2008. The latest was roughly double the December-2008 low of $1.61.  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 moved higher to $3.37 per gallon. So far this week the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline has been roughly stable at $2.45.

Crude oil prices rebounded last week to $90.68 per barrel of light sweet crude (WTI). The price compares to an average $79.51 during all of last year. The seasonally adjusted price for a barrel of crude rose to an average $99.82, as calculated by Haver Analytics. So far this week the cost of a barrel of crude oil reversed most of last week's gain and fell to an average $87.21 per barrel.

Lastly, natural gas prices rose to an average of $4.52 per mmbtu. Prices have risen from the low of $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 0.6% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, increased 6.5% and distillate demand slipped 0.3% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products rose a greatly lessened 1.6% 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 2/7/11 1/31/11 1/24/11 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.13 3.10 3.11 18.1% 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI($ per bbl.) 90.68 86.85 89.80 21.6 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.52 4.45 4.58 -17.4 4.40 3.95 8.88
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