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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Falls But Crude Oil At Five-Month High
by Tom Moeller November 22, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline fell seven cents last week to $3.37 per gallon. Prices were the lowest since February when they averaged $3.21. 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 one penny to $3.65 per gallon, up twenty-four cents in since last month's low. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded held at $2.52, down another six cents from last week's average.

Crude oil prices continued higher last week. Light Sweet Crude averaged $99.27 versus $79.71 averaged during the first week of October. Yesterday, retreated somewhat to $97.41. Prices peaked at $113.93 in late-April. Brent crude also fell sharply last week to $110.55 and yesterday sold for $105.88 per barrel. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

Weakest amongst energy prices was natural gas which fell sharply last week to $3.10 per mmbtu and prices remained lower versus last year's early-January peak of $6.50. Yesterday, prices fell further to $2.93.

Gasoline demand added to its recent downtrend and fell another 5.7% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, dropped 31.2% y/y but distillate demand rose 5.1%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 5.3% 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

Weekly Price 11/21/11 11/14/11 11/7/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.37 3.44 3.42 17.1 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 99.27 96.97 93.24 20.8 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.10 3.41 3.48 -6.7 4.40 3.95 8.88
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