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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Remain Firm
by Tom Moeller  March 19, 2013

The pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell by just 1 penny last week to $3.70 per gallon (-4.4% y/y), the third consecutive week of marginal decline. Despite the decline, prices remain up by 44 cents (13.6%) 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 4 cents w/w to $3.62 per gallon.

Working the other way, the price for light sweet crude oil increased $1.62 to $92.64 per barrel (-12.7% y/y). Yesterday prices rose further to $93.74. To the downside, Brent crude oil prices fell last week to $108.26 per barrel (-14.2% y/y) last week and were $108.87 yesterday.

Also on the uptrend recently have been natural gas prices. Last week's increase to $3.76 per mmbtu brought them up by roughly three-quarters since last year. Yesterday, prices showed more strength with a rise to $3.98.

The demand for gasoline rose 1.0% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, rose 16.7% y/y while distillate demand gained 1.0% 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 03/18/13 03/11/13 03/04/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.70 3.71 3.76 -4.4 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 92.64 91.02 92.25 -12.7 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.76 3.58 3.50 77.9 2.75 3.99 4.00
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