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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Tick Higher
by Tom Moeller  July 17, 2012

Drivers are dealing with something normal for this time of year - higher fuel costs.The pump price of regular gasoline rose another two cents last week to $3.43 per gallon. Nevertheless, the price is barely higher than the recent low of $3.36. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular rose five cents to $3.20 per gallon. This seasonally adjusted price is lower than the actual because gas prices typically rise with the summer driving season.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil held w/w at $85.78. Yesterday, the cost of crude rose to $87.10 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 in April, 2011. Brent crude rose last week to $98.99 per barrel and rose further to $100.71 yesterday.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by 3.9% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, was off 37.2% y/y but distillate demand rose 2.7% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products were unchanged year-to-year. That comparison was improved versus the 5.0% y/y decline this past fall.

Natural gas prices eased to $2.81 per mmbtu last week but were down 33.5% y/y. Yesterday, prices rose to 2.90 but still were off from the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

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 07/16/12 07/09/12 07/02/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.43 3.41 3.36 -6.9 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 85.78 85.77 80.29 -11.0 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.81 2.85 2.76 -36.3 3.99 4.40 3.95
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