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Economy in Brief

U.S. Natural Gas Prices Reach Highest Level Since 2010
by Tom Moeller  February 11, 2014

This winter's severely cold temperatures around the U.S. continued to strengthen natural gas prices. Last week's average of $6.39 per mmbtu nearly doubled last year's level and was the highest since January 2010. Yesterday, prices rose further to $7.58 per mmbtu.

The per barrel cost of WTI crude oil improved slightly to $97.76 (1.6% y/y) last week but remained down sharply from the $108.67 high in early September. Yesterday, prices jumped to $100.06. Brent crude oil prices fell last week to $108.81 per barrel (-5.9% y/y) but yesterday improved to $109.78 per barrel.

The price for a gallon of regular gasoline prices ticked up to $3.31 (-8.4% y/y) last week but remained down versus the $3.78 per gallon peak reached in February of last year. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for seasonal volatility. The adjusted price held steady last week at $3.51 per gallon, down from $3.94 in February last year.

The demand for all petroleum products increased 5.0% y/y last week. Gasoline demand fell 1.6% y/y. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, improved 4.6% y/y while distillate demand jumped 12.7% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 3.9% 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 02/10/14 02/03/14 01/27/14 Y/Y% 2013 2012 2011
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.31 3.29 3.30 -8.4 3.51 3.62 3.52
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 97.76 97.29 96.31 1.6 97.95 94.20 95.14
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA) 6.39 5.30 4.99 91.7 3.73 2.75 3.99
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