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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gas & Oil Prices Are Lower Still
by Tom Moeller  June 28, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline fell another eight cents to $3.57 per gallon last week, the lowest level since mid-March. Since last month's peak, prices have fallen 39 cents but remain up nearly one-third versus last year. 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 $3.27 per gallon, down 55 cents from the peak. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose slightly w/w to $2.65, compared to the late-April high of $3.30.

Leading the decline in gasoline prices has been crude oil prices. They fell to $92.85 for a barrel of WTI last week versus the late-April peak of $113.93. Yesterday, crude prices fell further to $90.61.

Higher prices continued to negatively affect demand for petroleum products. Gasoline demand inched up just 0.9% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, rose 2.1% y/y while distillate demand fell 5.7%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products again fell 1.8% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices fell w/w to $4.33 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices fell further to $4.28 and were 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

How Easy Is It To Forecast Commodity Prices? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Weekly Price 6/27/11 6/20/11 6/13/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.57 3.65 3.71 29.6 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 92.85 95.89 100.01 20.4 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.33 4.55 4.86 -12.2 4.40 3.95 8.88
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