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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Continue To Fall
by Tom Moeller  June 19, 2012

Last week, the pump price of regular gasoline declined another four cents to $3.53 per gallon. Since early April prices have fallen forty one cents (-10.4%) and they've retraced nearly three-quarters of the run-up early this year. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular declined four cents to $3.22 per gallon. Yesterday, the wholesale price for a gallon of unleaded was $2.67 and equal to last week.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil was off $1.12 last week to $83.32 as global demand weakened. Yesterday, the cost of crude rose to $84.00 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 in April, 2011. Brent crude declined last week to $99.25 per barrel and fell further to $98.30 yesterday.

Natural gas prices fell to $2.24 per mmbtu and were down 50.7% y/y. Yesterday, prices improved to $2.46 but still were off from the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by 4.4% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil demand, used for heating, was off nearly one-third and distillate demand fell 4.6% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped 0.2% 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 06/18/12 06/11/12 06/04/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.53 3.57 3.61 -3.3 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 83.32 84.44 87.09 -13.1 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.24 2.33 2.37 -50.7 3.99 4.40 3.95
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