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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Retreat But Natural Gas Prices Firm
by Tom Moeller  March 12, 2013

The pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell by 5 cents last week to $3.71 per gallon (-3.1% y/y) and added to its 2 cent decline during the prior week. Nevertheless, prices have risen 46 cents (14.0%) since the mid-December low. The norm for this time of year, when driving is reduced, is for prices to decline. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for seasonal volatility and the adjusted price fell 10 cents w/w to $3.65 per gallon.

In addition to the decline in the price of gasoline was a lower price for crude oil. The price for light sweet crude oil fell to $91.02 per barrel (-14.4% y/y), the lowest price since late-December. Yesterday prices recovered to $92.06. Brent crude oil prices fell to $110.25 per barrel (-12.9% y/y) last week and were $108.99 yesterday.

Natural gas prices have been on the rise. Last week's increase to $3.58 per mmbtu brought them up by more-than half since last year. Yesterday, prices showed more strength with a  rise to $3.68.

The demand for gasoline rose 1.1% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell by more than one-third y/y but distillate demand increased 5.3% y/y. Inventories of crude oil & petroleum products rose 1.6% y/y.

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 03/11/13 03/04/13 02/25/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.71 3.76 3.78 -3.1 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 91.02 92.25 94.27 -14.4 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.58 3.50 3.29 59.3 2.75 3.99 4.00
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