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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Slips But Crude Oil Ticks Up
by Tom Moeller  October 25, 2011

The pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline slipped last week by two cents to $3.46. Prices remained down versus May when they averaged $3.91. Retail prices usually start to ease this time of year with reduced seasonal demand. To account for this pattern, Haver Analytics calculates seasonal factors. As a result, the adjusted gasoline price rose slightly to $3.53 per gallon. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded slipped to $2.74, down two cents from last week's average.

Crude oil prices inched higher last week. Light Sweet Crude averaged $86.71 versus the early-month low of $79.71, and yesterday prices were even higher at $87.40. They remained down from the late-April peak of $113.93. Brent crude remained relatively expensive versus WTI and yesterday sold for $112.48 per barrel. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

Finally, natural gas prices recovered slightly last week to $3.61 per mmbtu. Prices remained lower versus last year's early-January peak of $6.50. Yesterday, prices slipped back to 3.52.

Gasoline demand slipped 1.5% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, jumped 24.3% y/y and distillate demand rose 5.8%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 5.4% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

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

What's in Your Wallet? The Future of Cash from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

Weekly Price 10/24/11 10/17/11 10/10/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.46 3.48 3.42 22.9 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 86.71 85.56 79.71 6.9 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.61 3.49 3.53 7.1 4.40 3.95 8.88
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