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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Rise Further
by Tom Moeller  March 15, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline increased last week by another nickel to $3.57 per gallon, again the highest since October-2008 and more-than 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. The adjusted gasoline price rose to $3.67 per gallon last week. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline slipped to $2.79 from an average $2.83 last week.

Crude oil prices rose roughly three dollars last week to $103.74 for a barrel of crude oil (WTI). The price compares to an average $79.51 during all of last year. Yesterday prices fell from last week to $101.19 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices slipped yesterday to $112.44 yesterday from $115.47 at the end of February.

Demand for gasoline improved by 2.3% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell back by 5.5% but distillate demand rose 4.1% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products ticked were essentially unchanged during the last twelve months, down from a peak 11% in September 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices slipped w/w to $3.80 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices strengthened somewhat to $3.91 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 3/14/11 3/7/11 2/28/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.57 3.52 3.38 27.9 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 103.74 100.92 95.95 26.9 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.80 3.82 3.83 -14.6 4.40 3.95 8.88
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