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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Product Costs Plumb New Lows
by Tom Moeller  March 24, 2020

The per barrel price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil has weakened due to reduced demand from around the globe and increases in supply. It declined to $23.36 yesterday from an average $24.79 last week after averaging $32.34 in the prior week. It was the lowest price since March 2002. Prices have fallen from $61.75 averaged in the first week of January. The price of Brent crude oil weakened to $27.07 per barrel yesterday from an average of $28.09 last week, down from $34.97 in the prior week. The price has fallen from a $67.38 high averaged in the last week of December.

Retail gasoline prices declined to $2.12 per gallon (-19.2% y/y) in the week ended March 23 from $2.25 per gallon in the previous week. 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 $2.14 per gallon.

The average price of natural gas fell to $1.79/mmbtu (-37.4% y/y) last week and reversed the prior week's increase to $1.87/mmbtu. The price weakened to $1.70/mmbtu yesterday and remained below the peak of $2.81/mmbtu early in November.

In the four weeks ending March 13, gasoline demand increased 2.1% y/y, while total petroleum product demand improved 0.3% y/y. Gasoline inventories eased 0.3% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 1.5% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries declined 1.4% 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 03/23/20 03/16/20 03/09/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.12 2.25 2.38 -19.2 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 24.79 32.34 45.55 -58.3 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.79 1.87 1.80 -37.4 2.57 3.18 2.99
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