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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Slips As Crude Oil Gains
by Tom Moeller December 6, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline fell another two cents last week to $3.29 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 one penny to $3.63 per gallon, up twenty-two cents during the last eight weeks. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.65 versus last week's average of $2.59.

Crude oil prices continued strong as light Sweet Crude averaged $99.90 per barrel, up modestly w/w and up sharply versus $79.71 averaged during the first week of October. Yesterday, the price rose further to $100.99. Prices peaked at $113.93 in late-April. Brent crude also rose last week to $110.33 per barrel. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

Natural gas prices rebounded last week to $3.37 per mmbtu but prices remained lower versus last year's early-January peak of $6.50. Yesterday, prices rose further to $3.41.

Gasoline demand added to its recent downtrend and fell another 2.9% on average during late-November versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, declined 20.3% y/y but distillate demand rose 1.4%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 5.0% 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 12/05/11 11/28/11 11/21/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.29 3.31 3.37 11.2 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 99.90 97.20 99.27 15.7 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.37 2.84 3.10 -19.6 4.40 3.95 8.88
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