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Economy in Brief

U.S. Crude Oil & Gasoline Prices Rise
by Tom Moeller  January 4, 2012

Supply uncertainties recently increased petroleum prices. The price for a barrel of light sweet crude rose last week to $99.77 and remained up sharply from $79.71 averaged during the first week of October. Yesterday, the price jumped further to $102.96. Prices peaked at $113.93 in late-April. Brent crude also rose last week to $108.71 per barrel and was $110.49 yesterday. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

The pump price for regular gasoline rose another four cents to $3.30 per gallon last week following the prior week's three cent gain. Retail prices usually decline 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 held steady w/w at $3.64. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.78 versus last week's average of $2.71.

Natural gas prices recently have been under notable downward pressure. Last week's price of $3.02 per mmbtu was down roughly one-quarter y/y and fell further yesterday to $2.96. Prices remained lower versus early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Gasoline demand recently fell 5.6% on average versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, declined 15.0% y/y but distillate demand rose 2.9%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 3.3 % 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 01/02/12 12/26/11 12/19/11 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.30 3.26 3.23 7.5 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 99.77 97.80 95.79 9.9 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.02 3.01 3.09 -27.2 3.99 4.40 3.95
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