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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Hit Lowest Level Since January
by Tom Moeller  October 8, 2013

The price for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped 6 cents last week to $3.37 (-12.5% y/y). Prices were at their lowest level since the end of January, 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 $3.35 per gallon remained below the February peak of $3.94. Yesterday, the NY spot price for regular unleaded was $2.64 per gallon, equal to last week's average.

Helping gasoline prices to move lower is the high level of gasoline inventories which increased 12.1% y/y. That's a great improvement from the declines during 2011 and 2012. At the same time, the demand for gasoline gained a modest 0.8% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell 14.2% y/y but distillate demand gained 1.6% y/y.

The price of light sweet crude oil per barrel remains under slight pressure. It notched up just six cents last week to $103.14 per barrel (13.6% y/y), but that was off the September high of $108.77. Yesterday prices were $103.03 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices improved last week to $108.85 per barrel (-3.7% y/y) but they remained down from the February high of $118.09. Yesterday, prices rose further to $109.89 per barrel.

Natural gas prices also recently have been under pressure. They were fairly stable last week at $3.56 per mmbtu (11.1% y/y) and were $3.58 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 10/07/13 09/30/13 09/23/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.37 3.43 3.50 -12.5 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 103.14 103.08 106.22 13.6 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA) 3.56 3.54 3.72 11.1 2.75 3.99 4.00
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