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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Improve But Crude Oil Prices Slip From High
by Tom Moeller  May 21, 2013

The upcoming summer driving season is lending strength to gasoline prices. The price of regular gasoline gained another seven cents last week to $3.67 per gallon, still off a slim 1.1% versus last year. Prices remain below the $3.78 per gallon peak reached late in February. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for seasonal volatility and the adjusted price rose w/w to $3.43 per gallon. 

Moving away from the recent high was the price for light sweet crude oil. It slipped to $94.97 per barrel (+2.0% y/y) but remained up from the recent low of $87.97. Yesterday prices recovered to $96.61. Brent crude oil prices also fell last week to $102.87 per barrel (-6.6% y/y) but recovered to $104.71 yesterday.

Natural gas prices stabilized last week and ticked up to $3.95 per mmbtu (58.9% y/y). They rose further yesterday at $4.10.

The demand for gasoline fell 3.1% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell 14.4% y/y while distillate demand was off 3.0% y/y. Gasoline inventories rose 6.5% 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 Energy Prices 05/20/13 05/13/13 05/06/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.67 3.60 3.54 -1.1 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 94.97 96.17 93.72 2.0 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.95 3.89 4.21 58.9 2.75 3.99 4.00
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