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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Decline Again
by Tom Moeller  June 5, 2012

Last week, the pump price of regular gasoline again fell an additional six cents to $3.61 per gallon. Over the last nine weeks, prices have fallen thirty three cents (-4.5% y/y) and retraced roughly one-third of the run-up early this year. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular declined seven cents to $3.31 per gallon. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.68 versus $2.75 averaged last week.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil fell another $3.98 last week to $87.09, the lowest level since October 2011. Yesterday, the cost of crude was off further to $83.98 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 in April 2011. Brent crude declined last week to $103.96 per barrel and fell further to $98.99 yesterday.

Natural gas prices declined sharply last week to $2.37 per mmbtu, the lowest level in three weeks, and were down nearly one-half y/y. Yesterday, prices remained lower at $2.32, off from the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by 2.6% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil demand, used for heating, fell by one-third y/y and distillate demand fell 1.0% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped 0.6% 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 06/04/12 05/28/12 05/21/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.61 3.67 3.71 -4.5 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 87.09 91.07 93.12 -13.7 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.37 2.60 2.49 -49.3 3.99 4.40 3.95
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