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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Continue Lower
by Tom Moeller  May 30, 2012

Soft economies worldwide are continuing to prompt weakness in oil markets. Last week, the pump price of regular gasoline again declined another four cents to $3.67 per gallon. Over the last eight weeks, prices have fallen twenty seven cents (-6.9%) and they've retraced roughly one-third of the run-up early this year. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular declined five cents to $3.38 per gallon. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.83, the same as averaged last week.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil fell another $2.05 last week to $91.07. Yesterday, the cost of crude fell further to $90.76 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 in April, 2011. Brent crude declined last week to $108.00 per barrel and fell further to $107.96 yesterday.

Natural gas prices rose again last week to $2.60 per mmbtu but still were down 40.3% y/y. Yesterday, prices pulled back to $2.50, off from the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by 1.9% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil demand, used for heating, fell 29.7% y/y and distillate demand fell 3.3% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped 0.5% year-to-year. That comparison was improved versus the 5.0% decline 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 05/28/12 05/21/12 05/14/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.67 3.71 3.75 -3.3 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 91.07 93.12 96.99 -8.7 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.60 2.49 2.33 -40.3 3.99 4.40 3.95
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