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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Costs Drop Sharply
by Tom Moeller  March 10, 2020

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil plummeted yesterday. It declined to $31.13 per barrel after falling last week to an average $45.58. The latest was the lowest level since February 2016. The price of Brent crude oil weakened to $34.50 yesterday from an average of $50.04 per barrel last week. Prices peaked at $68.14 at the end of last year.

Retail gasoline prices fell to $2.38 per gallon (-3.9% y/y) in the week ended March 9 versus $2.42 per gallon in the previous week. It was the lowest price since the third week of February 2019. Prices remained below an early-May peak of $2.90 per gallon. Haver Analytics adjusts prices for seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted gasoline price fell to $2.48 per gallon.

The average price of natural gas declined to $1.80/mmbtu (-45.1% y/y) last week, the lowest price since March 2016. The price weakened to $1.74/mmbtu yesterday and remained below the peak of $2.81/mmbtu reach early in November.

In the four weeks ending February 28, gasoline demand improved 1.0% y/y, while total petroleum product demand eased 0.1% y/y. Gasoline inventories increased 0.5% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 1.0% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries rose 0.9% 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 03/09/20 03/02/20 02/24/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.38 2.42 2.47 -3.9 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 45.58 48.34 53.13 -19.1 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.80 1.90 2.00 -45.1 2.57 3.18 2.99
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