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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Decline Steadies As Crude Oil Gains, Again
by Tom Moeller  June 7, 2011

Last week, the pump price for regular gasoline fell one penny to $3.78 per gallon. Since the peak four weeks ago prices have fallen 17 cents (4.6%). Pump prices usually start rising this time of year with increased seasonal demand. To account for this pattern, Haver Analytics calculates seasonal factors. As a result, the adjusted gasoline price fell further to $3.46 per gallon, it's lowest since late-February. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell to $2.86 versus $2.95 last week, down from the late-April high of $3.30.

Crude oil prices have been relatively firm of late, rising to an average $100.90 for a barrel of WTI last week. Price remained down from the recent high of $113.93. Yesterday, crude prices slipped to $99.01.

Higher prices continued to negatively affect demand for petroleum products. Gasoline demand slipped 0.5% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell 1.8% y/y while distillate demand fell 5.0%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 1.6% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices rose w/w to $4.67 per mmbtu the highest level since August of last year. Yesterday, prices rose further to $4.84, however, they 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 6/6/11 5/30/11 5/23/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.78 3.79 3.85 38.8 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 100.90 99.79 98.46 38.4 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.67 4.36 4.14 4.6 4.40 3.95 8.88
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