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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Again Move Up
by Tom Moeller  July 19, 2011

Good news often doesn't last forever. Reversing earlier declines, the pump price for regular gasoline rose four cents last week to $3.68 per gallon, its highest in a month. Nevertheless, prices remained down twenty eight cents since the May peak. Pump prices usually rise 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 rose to $3.44 per gallon. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell to $3.01 versus last week's $3.06. 

Moving the other way, crude oil prices last week fell slightly to $96.40 for a barrel of WTI. They remained down from the late-April peak of $113.93. Yesterday, crude prices fell further to $95.58.

Higher prices continued to negatively affect demand for petroleum products. Gasoline demand slipped 0.9% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, rose 9.1% y/y while distillate demand fell 5.2%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 1.9% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices rose w/w to $4.42 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices rose further to $4.58 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

Commodity Price Gains: Speculation vs. Fundamentals from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Weekly Price 7/18/11 7/11/11 7/4/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.68 3.64 3.58 35.3 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 96.40 97.10 93.73 26.3 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.42 4.28 4.32 -1.4 4.40 3.95 8.88
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