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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Continues Sharp Decline
by Tom Moeller November 29, 2011

Gasoline prices are showing the effects of reduced demand. The pump price for regular gasoline fell another six cents last week to $3.31 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 slipped marginally to $3.64 per gallon, up twenty-three cents in since last month's low. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded held roughly even at last week's average of $2.54.

Gasoline demand added to its recent downtrend and fell another 4.0% on average during the last four weeks versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, dropped 32.7% y/y but distillate demand rose 5.7%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 5.5% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

Crude oil prices slipped last week. Light Sweet Crude averaged $97.20, down slightly w/w but up versus $79.71 averaged during the first week of October. Yesterday, rose back up to $98.21. Prices peaked at $113.93 in late-April. Brent crude also fell sharply last week to $107.07 but yesterday sold for $109.64 per barrel. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

Continuing weak were natural gas prices which fell sharply last week to $2.84 per mmbtu and prices remained lower versus last year's early-January peak of $6.50. Yesterday, prices recovered to $3.12.

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 11/28/11 11/21/11 11/14/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.31 3.37 3.44 15.8 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 97.20 99.27 96.97 18.7 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.84 3.10 3.41 -27.1 4.40 3.95 8.88
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