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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Slip From High
by Tom Moeller  March 22, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline slipped one penny last week to $3.56 per gallon. Nevertheless prices remained near 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 fell to $3.62 per gallon last week. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline increased to $2.81 from an average $2.72 last week.

Crude oil prices backpedaled four dollars last week to $99.77 for a barrel of WTI. The price compares to an average $79.51 during all of last year. Yesterday prices recovered to $102.33 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices slipped last week to $112.19 from $115.47 at the end of February.

Demand for gasoline improved by 1.4% in the latest week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, recovered 8.8% and distillate demand rose 3.8% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products were unchanged during the last twelve months.

Finally, natural gas prices improved w/w to $3.87 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices strengthened further to $3.99 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 3/21/11 3/14/11 3/7/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.56  3.57 3.52 26.4 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 99.77 103.74 100.92 22.5 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.87 3.80 3.82 -8.5 4.40 3.95 8.88
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