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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Slips Again As Crude Oil Breaks $100
by Tom Moeller December 13, 2011

The pump price for regular gasoline fell another two cents last week to $3.27 per gallon. Prices remained 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 two cents to $3.65 per gallon, up twenty-four cents during the last eight weeks. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.60 versus last week's average of $2.64.

Crude oil prices continued strong as light Sweet Crude averaged $100.10 per barrel up sharply from $79.71 averaged during the first week of October. Yesterday, the price slipped back to $97.77. Prices peaked at $113.93 in late-April. Brent crude slipped last week to $109.54 per barrel and was $107.32 yesterday. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

Natural gas prices improved last week to $3.40 per mmbtu but prices remained lower versus last year's early-January peak of $6.50. Yesterday, prices were $3.13.

Gasoline demand fell another 3.5% on average during early-December versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, declined 17.3% y/y but distillate demand rose 3.4%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 4.2% 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 12/12/11 12/05/11 11/28/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.27 3.29 3.31 9.9 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 100.10 99.90 97.20 13.1 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.40 3.37 2.84 -23.7 4.40 3.95 8.88
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