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Economy in Brief

U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Prices Decline Sharply
by Tom Moeller  December 15, 2015

WTI crude oil costs declined to $36.93 per barrel last week (-39.6% y/y), the lowest price since February 2009. They eased further to $36.31 yesterday. Prices were down from the daily high of $113.93 in April 2011. Brent crude oil prices fell w/w to $38.76 per barrel and were $36.51 yesterday.

Natural gas prices fell last week to $1.94 per mmbtu (-46.0% y/y), the lowest level since early 2012. Prices declined further to $1.69 yesterday.

Gasoline prices at the pump eased last week to $2.04 per gallon, down another penny from the prior week. Prices were 20.2% lower y/y and equaled the January low. Haver Analytics constructs factors adjusting for the seasonal variation in pump prices. The seasonally adjusted price rose four cents to $2.24 per gallon. Moving sharply lower was the spot market gasoline price. It fell to $1.19 per gallon (-33.0% y/y).

Gasoline inventories edged 0.4% higher y/y and inventories of all petroleum products rose 9.9% y/y. Crude oil production (input to refineries) increased 1.6% y/y during the last four weeks. Gasoline demand improved 0.7% y/y last week but demand for all petroleum products declined 0.6% y/y.

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.

Weekly Energy Prices 12/14/15 12/07/15 11/30/15 Y/Y% 2014 2013 2012
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.04 2.05 2.06 -20.2 2.30 3.33 3.30
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 36.93 40.40 40.49 -39.6 93.64 97.96 94.20
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, WSJ) 1.94 2.12 2.10 -46.0 4.37 3.73 2.75
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