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Economy in Brief

U.S. The Decline In Fuel Prices Runs Out Of Gas
by Tom Moeller  August 30, 2011

During the last several weeks, the early-summer decline in petroleum costs leveled off. The pump price for regular gasoline rose a nickel last week to $3.63 per gallon, its highest in a month. Nevertheless, prices remained down thirty-four 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 $3.48 per gallon. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell to $2.74 versus last week's average $2.81.

Crude oil prices slipped last week to $85.05 for a barrel of WTI. They remained down from the late-April peak of $113.93. Yesterday, crude prices rose back to $87.27. Brent crude remained relatively expensive and yesterday sold for $113.37. Prices peaked at $126.21.

Higher prices continued to negatively affect demand for petroleum products. Gasoline demand fell 2.4% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell 1.8% y/y but distillate demand rose 8.3%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 6.3% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices fell w/w to $4.01 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices fell further to $3.92 and 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 8/29/11 8/22/11 8/15/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.63 3.58 3.60 35.7 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 85.05 85.35 82.90 16.6 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.01 4.00 4.01 2.1 4.40 3.95 8.88
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