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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Reach New High
by Tom Moeller  March 29, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline rose four cents last week to $3.60 per gallon to the highest level since September, 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 held steady at $3.62 per gallon last week. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline increased to $2.87 from an average $2.84 last week.

Crude oil prices also were strong last week and increased to $104.52 for a barrel of WTI, also the highest since September, 2008. The price compares to the 2008 low of $32.37. Yesterday prices slipped to $103.98 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices also rose last week to $112.67.

Demand for gasoline improved by 1.3% in the latest week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell  8.9% but distillate demand rose 3.6% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products remained little-changed year-to-year.

Finally, natural gas prices recovered w/w to $4.14 per mmbtu, the highest level since early-last month. Yesterday, prices strengthened further to $4.34 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 3/29/11 3/21/11 3/14/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.60 3.56  3.57 28.5 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 104.52 99.77 103.74 29.6 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.14 3.87 3.80 2.9 4.40 3.95 8.88
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