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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Slip Again; Crude Oil Firms
by Tom Moeller  April 2, 2013

Drivers are finally realizing some relief when filling up. The pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell by 3 cents last week to $3.65 per gallon (-7.5% y/y), continuing the modest decline from the late-February high of $3.78.  Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for normal seasonal volatility and the adjusted price fell 7 cents w/w to $3.50 per gallon. Prices were down by 30 cents, 7.2%, from one year ago.

The recent decline in gas prices comes in spite of a rise in the price for light sweet crude oil.  It increased $3.24 last week to $96.24 per barrel (-8.5% y/y), the highest level since mid-February. Yesterday prices rose further to $97.07. Somewhat less firm have been Brent crude oil prices which were stable last week at $107.48 per barrel (-13.6% y/y) but rose to $109.45 yesterday.

Continuing their recent uptrend were natural gas prices. Last week's increase to $4.05 per mmbtu left them roughly double last year's level. Yesterday, prices held the high ground at $4.04.

The demand for gasoline slipped 0.2% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell 0.9% y/y while distillate demand increased 5.7% y/y. Inventories of crude oil & petroleum products rose 0.9% 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. 

Long-term Inflation Expectations from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.


Weekly Price 04/01/13 03/25/13 03/18/13 Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.65 3.68 3.70 -7.5 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 96.24 93.00 92.64 -8.5 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.05 3.99 3.76 96.8 2.75 3.99 4.00
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