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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Price Ticks Up But Crude Oil Slips
by Tom Moeller  January 18, 2012

The pump price for regular gasoline rose one penny last week to $3.39 per gallon, adding to the prior week's eight 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 slipped two cents w/w to $3.62. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.79 versus last week's average of $2.77.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude fell last week to $100.04 but remained up sharply from $79.71 averaged during the first week of October. Yesterday, the price held at $100.71. Prices peaked at $113.93 in late-April. Brent crude also slipped last week to $111.20 per barrel and was $110.60 yesterday. Prices peaked earlier at $126.21.

Natural gas prices continued under downward pressure. Last week's price of $2.80 per mmbtu was down roughly one-third y/y and fell further yesterday to a new low of $2.47. Prices were lower versus the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Gasoline demand recently fell 4.8% on average versus last year. Demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell 0.4% y/y and distillate demand fell 0.2%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 2.3% 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 01/16/12 01/09/12 01/02/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.39 3.38 3.30 9.2 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 100.44 102.39 99.77 10.3 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.80 2.92 3.02 -37.3 3.99 4.40 3.95
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