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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline & Crude Oil Prices Back Off Seasonally
by Tom Moeller  September 25, 2012

Since the summer, petroleum prices have been on the rise but lately the momentum eased.The pump price of regular gasoline fell five cents last week to $3.83 per gallon. However, since fall usually brings with it less driving, prices can be expected to back off. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factor to reflect these pressures. After adjustment the price for regular rose two cents w/w to $3.76 per gallon.

Additionally reflecting global economic weakness, the price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil fell $3.28 w/w to $94.33 per barrel last week and reversed the gains of the last month. Yesterday, the cost of crude fell further to $92.89 per barrel. Prices peaked at $113.93 in April, 2011. Haver's seasonally adjusted crude oil price fell $2.31 last week to $93.21 per barrel. Brent crude also fell last week to $111.64 per barrel and fell further to $109.64 yesterday.

Natural gas prices also fell last week to $2.75 per mmbtu but yesterday ticked up to $2.77, still roughly half the early-January 2010 peak of $6.50.

The demand for gasoline slipped 0.9% y/y. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell 21.3% y/y and distillate demand was off 11.2% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products increased 1.5% y/y. That comparison was improved from 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 09/24/12 09/17/12 09/10/12 Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.83 3.88 3.85 9.0 3.52 2.78 2.35
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 94.33 97.61 95.65 12.6 95.14 79.51 61.39
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 2.75 2.86 2.83 -27.0 3.99 4.40 3.95
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