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Economy in Brief

U.S. Crude Oil Prices Surge; Gasoline Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller  September 1, 2015

Crude oil prices found new life last week. Following weakness through Wednesday which left WTI crude oil costs at $38.60 per barrel, prices surged on news of weakened production and speculation of more cutbacks to come. For the week, prices averaged a new low of $40.75 per barrel (-57.7% y/y), down from $107.23 in May 2014. As of yesterday, however, prices surged to $49.20 per barrel, the highest level since July. These prices compare to a June 2014 high of $107.95. The seasonally adjusted price, generated by Haver Analytics, declined last week to $38.41 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices declined w/w to $45.34 per barrel but were $53.04 yesterday.

Gasoline prices at the pump continued to fall and averaged $2.51 per gallon (-27.4% y/y) last week. That was down 7 cents from a week earlier and below $2.84 in mid-June. Haver Analytics constructs factors adjusting for the seasonal variation in pump prices. The seasonally adjusted price fell 14 cents w/w to $2.39 per gallon. Spot market gasoline prices fell w/w to $1.48 per gallon (-46.4% y/y).

Natural gas prices eased again last week to $2.68 per mmbtu (-32.6% y/y) and were $2.68 yesterday.

Gasoline demand rose 5.8% y/y last week while demand for all petroleum products rose 2.4% y/y. Gasoline inventories improved 1.0% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 9.1% y/y. Crude oil production (input to refineries) grew 3.0% y/y during the last four weeks.

The energy price data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The petroleum demand and inventory figures are from the Oil & Gas Journal Weekly. These data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database. The daily figures are in DAILY and greater detail on prices, demand and production, along with regional breakdowns, are in OILWKLY.

Inflation Expectations Surveys Often Miss the Mark from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas can be found here.

Weekly Energy Prices 08/31/15 08/24/15 08/17/15 Y/Y% 2014 2013 2012
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.51 2.64 2.72 -27.4 2.30 3.33 3.30
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 40.75 41.34 43.20 -57.7 93.64 97.96 94.20
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, WSJ) 2.68 2.72 2.87 -32.6 4.37 3.73 2.7
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