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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Improve
by Tom Moeller  December 24, 2013

The price for a gallon of regular gasoline prices recovered to $3.27 (0.4% y/y) last week but remained down versus the $3.78 per gallon peak reached late in February. Much of the decline versus last year reflects less driving this time of year. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for this seasonal volatility. The adjusted price rose last week to $3.64 per gallon, its highest level since mid-March.

The per barrel cost of WTI crude oil improved to $98.01 (10.5% y/y) last week, the highest level since late October. Prices, nevertheless, remained down sharply from the $108.67 high in early September. Yesterday, prices improved further to $98.91. Brent crude oil prices rose last week to $110.11 per barrel, unchanged y/y, and yesterday were $111.36 per barrel.

The recent rise in natural gas prices eased last week with a slip to $4.27 per mmbtu, still up 29.1% versus last year. Yesterday, prices resumed their uptrend with a rise to $4.51.

The demand for all petroleum products increased 4.0% y/y last week. Gasoline demand gained 3.7% y/y last week. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell 14.9% y/y but distillate demand was roughly steady y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 1.3% y/y but gasoline inventories ticked up 0.5% 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 petroleum demand and inventory figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 12/23/13 12/16/13 12/09/13 Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.27 3.24 3.27 0.4 3.62 3.52 2.78
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 98.01 97.23 96.30 10.5 94.20 95.14 79.51
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA) 4.27 4.31 3.94 29.2 2.75 3.99 4.00
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