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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Rose at Year-End
by Sandy Batten  December 31, 2019

In the week ended December 30, retail gasoline prices rose to $2.57 per gallon (+13.5% y/y) from $2.53 per gallon the previous week. This was the first weekly increase in seven weeks. Retail gasoline prices usually fall at this time of year; so Haver Analytics adjusts prices for seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted gasoline price rose to $2.75 per gallon, the ninth consecutive weekly increase and the highest price since mid-May, from $2.72 per gallon the previous week. The divergence of not seasonally adjusted and seasonally adjusted prices over the past couple of months indicates that gasoline prices at the pump have fallen recently but not by as much as they usually do at this time of year.

In the week ended December 27, the West Texas Intermediate crude oil price rose to $61.27 (37.5%) per barrel from $60.73 per barrel in the previous week. This is the eighth consecutive weekly increase and pushed the price to its highest level since the week ended May 17. Yesterday, the price was $61.68. The Brent crude oil price also rose to an average of $67.42 (28.8% y/y) from $66.03 per barrel the previous week. It slipped to $66.57 yesterday.

The weekly average price of natural gas prices slumped to $2.03/mmbtu (-37.7% y/y) in the week ended December 27 from $2.28/mmbtu in the previous week. Natural gas prices have fallen in six of the past seven weeks. On Monday, the price was $2.06/mmbtu.

In the four-weeks ending December 20, gasoline demand increased 0.3% y/y but total petroleum product demand declined 3.0% y/y. Gasoline inventories gained 2.6% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 1.5% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries fell 3.9% y/y in the past four weeks.

These data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The price data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY and DAILY databases. Greater detail on prices, as well as the demand, production and inventory data, along with regional breakdowns, are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 12/30/19 12/23/19 12/16/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.57 2.53 2.54 13.5 2.27 2.47 2.31
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 61.27 60.73 59.25 37.5 64.95 50.87 43.22
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.03 2.28 2.24 -37.7 3.18 2.99 2.51
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