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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Remain Under Downward Pressure
by Tom Moeller  October 1, 2013

Rising inventories combined with weaker demand is a prescription for falling prices, and that's certainly been the case of late within the energy sector. The price of regular gasoline declined another 7 cents last week to $3.43 per gallon (-10.0% y/y). Prices are down from the $3.78 per gallon peak reached late in February. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for seasonal volatility. The adjusted price of $3.41 per gallon remained below the February peak of $3.94. Yesterday, the NY spot price fell to $2.65 per gallon.

Gasoline inventories increased 10.4% y/y. That's a great improvement from the declines during 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile, the demand for gasoline notched up a slim 0.8% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell 7.2% y/y but distillate demand improved 7.8% y/y.

The price for light sweet crude oil also remains pressure. It fell last week to $103.08 per barrel (+12.7% y/y). Yesterday prices declined further to $102.33 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices were stable last week at $108.56 per barrel (-3.7% y/y) but they remained down from the February high of $118.09. Yesterday, prices were comparatively stable at $108.56 per barrel.

Natural gas prices also recently have been under pressure, slipping last week to $3.54 per mmbtu (+20.9.9% y/y) and were $3.52 yesterday, down from the April peak of $4.26.

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 and inventory figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 09/30/13 09/23/13 09/16/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.43 3.50 3.55 -10.0 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 103.08 106.22 108.36 12.7 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA) 3.54 3.72 3.62 20.9 2.75 3.99 4.00
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