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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Reach Highest Level Since May
by Tom Moeller  August 7, 2012

They've been rising for the last five weeks. But last week the pump price of regular gasoline jumped fourteen cents to $3.65 per gallon. Since the low, prices have risen 29 cents (8.6%), the highest since the last week of May. Haver Analytics' seasonally-adjusted price for regular rose eleven cents w/w to $3.42 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 roughly stable w/w at $89.06, up from the late June weekly low of $80.92. Yesterday, the cost of crude rose further to $92.20 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 in April, 2011. Brent crude increased last week to $107.01 per barrel and rose further yesterday to $110.54.

Natural gas prices held steady at $3.12 per mmbtu last week, the highest level since mid-December. Yesterday, prices fell back to $2.91 and still were roughly half the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

Reduced driving and improved fuel economy lowered the demand for gasoline by 3.4% y/y last week. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, was off 20.2% y/y and distillate demand was off 2.4% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped 0.3% y/y. That comparison was improved versus the 5.0% y/y 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 08/06/12 07/30/12 07/23/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.65 3.51 3.49 -0.8 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 89.06 89.03 90.32 -1.9 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.12  3.12 2.92 -25.7 3.99 4.40 3.95
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