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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller  April 17, 2012

Pump prices for regular gasoline dipped last week to $3.92 per gallon but still were near their highest since last May. The current level is up sixty nine cents (22%) since year-end. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular fell another five cents to $3.84 per gallon, the third consecutive month down. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $3.28 versus $3.30 averaged last week.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil fell last week to $102.53 but still was up sharply versus the low of $79.71 this past October. Yesterday, the cost of crude was $102.93. Prices peaked at $113.93 last April. Brent crude fell last week to $121.39 per barrel and fell further to $118.24 yesterday.

Natural gas prices fell again last week to $1.93 per mmbtu, down 53.3% y/y. Yesterday, prices fell further to 1.89 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 4.0% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil demand, used for heating, fell 8.6 y/y while distillate demand was off 3.6% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products remained 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 04/16/12 04/09/12 04/02/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.92 3.94 3.94 2.0 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 102.53 103.51 105.13 -5.2 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 1.93 1.98 2.06 -53.3 3.99 4.40 3.95
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