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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Remain Under Pressure
by Tom Moeller  October 22, 2013

The price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose a penny last week to $3.36 (-8.9% y/y). Prices have been relatively stable for three weeks at their lowest level since the end of January, but that's 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 $3.39 per gallon remained below the February peak of $3.94. Yesterday, the NY spot price for regular unleaded was $2.67 per gallon, below last week's average of $3.72.

Helping gasoline prices to move lower is the high level of gasoline inventories which increased 10.2% 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 1.7% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell by nearly one-half y/y while distillate demand fell 3.4% y/y.

The price of light sweet crude oil per barrel remains under pressure. It declined last week to $101.51 per barrel (+10.8% y/y). Yesterday prices fell further to $99.22 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices were stable last week at $110.13 per barrel (-3.1% y/y) but they remained down from the February high of $118.09. Yesterday, prices fell to $109.41 per barrel.

Natural gas prices recently firmed. They rose slightly last week to $3.77 per mmbtu (13.9% y/y) and were $3.77 yesterday, still 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 10/21/13 10/14 10/07/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.36 3.35 3.37 -8.9 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 101.51 102.70 103.14 10.8 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA) 3.77 3.69 3.56 13.9 2.75 3.99 4.00
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