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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Surge With Crude Oil
by Tom Moeller  March 1, 2011

Strength in energy prices continues unabated. The pump price for regular gasoline last week surged nineteen cents to $3.38 per gallon, the highest since October-2008 and 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 $3.41 per gallon. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline increased further to $2.70 from an average $2.67 last week.

Crude oil prices, up with political unrest in the Middle East, jumped roughly $10.00 last week to $95.95 for a barrel of crude oil (WTI). The price compares to an average $79.51 during all of last year. Yesterday prices rose further to $96.97 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices surged as well to $111.48 from $98.63 at the end of January.

Demand for gasoline ticked up 0.1% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, surged 10.1% and distillate demand rose 2.7% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products rose a greatly lessened 2.7% during the last twelve months, down from a peak 11% in September 2009.

Lastly, natural gas prices fell again, last week to an average of $3.83 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices recovered a bit to $3.94 but remained down from last year's early-January high of $6.50.

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 2/28/11 2/21/11 2/14/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.38 3.19 3.14 25.2 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 95.95 85.34 86.69 21.1 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.83 3.89 4.16 -21.5 4.40 3.95 8.88
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