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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Are Mixed
by Tom Moeller  April 14, 2020

• Crude oil prices improved last week, but a sideways trend persists.

• A supply/demand imbalance for petroleum intensifies.

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil increased to $24.40 per barrel last week from an average $21.72 one week earlier. Despite the improvement, the price remained roughly two-thirds lower y/y. Yesterday, the price was $22.41. The price of Brent crude oil rose to an average of $32.25 last week. The price has fallen from a $67.38 high averaged in the last week of December. Yesterday, the price was $31.82.

Retail gasoline prices declined to $1.85 per gallon (-34.5% y/y) in the week ended April 13 from $1.92 per gallon in the previous week. Prices remained below their May 2019 peak of $2.90 per gallon. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for regular seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price fell to $1.79 per gallon from $1.89.

The average price of natural gas rose to $1.77/mmbtu (-35.1% y/y) last week from $1.62, but remained below the peak of $2.81/mmbtu early in November. Yesterday, the price was $1.86/mmbtu.

Reduced prices reflect supply outpacing demand. In the four weeks ending April 3, gasoline inventories rose 12.3% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 3.8% y/y. Gasoline demand declined 19.3% y/y, while total petroleum product demand fell 10.7% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries declined 5.9% 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 04/13/20 04/06/20 03/30/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 1.85 1.92 2.00 -34.5 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 24.40 21.72 20.62 -61.9 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.77 1.62 1.73 -35.1 2.57 3.18 2.99
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