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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Are Stable & Crude Oil Falls
by Tom Moeller  April 10, 2012

Finally, some relief. Pump prices for regular gasoline held steady last week at $3.94 per gallon but still were their highest since last May. The current level is up seventy cents (22%) since year-end. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular fell five cents to $3.88 per gallon, adding to the earlier week's two cent dip. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $3.26 versus $3.32 averaged last week.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil fell last week to $103.51 but still was up sharply versus the low of $79.71 this past October. Yesterday, the cost of crude slipped further to $102.46. Prices peaked at $113.93 last April. Brent crude held last week at $124.96 per barrel but fell to $121.86 yesterday.

Natural gas prices fell again last week to $1.98 per mmbtu, down 52.3% y/y. Yesterday, prices held at that level but were down from the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by a lessened 3.8% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil demand, used for heating, fell by one-third y/y while distillate demand was off 5.0% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products were unchanged year-to-year. That comparison was improved, however, compared to the -5.0% figures this past Fall.

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 04/09/12 04/02/12 03/26/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.94 3.94 3.92 3.9 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 103.51 105.13 106.56 -5.7 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 1.98 2.06 2.14 -52.3 3.99 4.40 3.95
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