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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Move Higher
by Tom Moeller  May 12, 2020

• Gasoline prices recoup earlier declines.

• Crude oil costs reach four-week high.

• Natural gas prices strengthen.

Retail gasoline prices increased to $1.85 per gallon (-35.4% y/y) in the week ended May 11 from $1.79 per gallon in the previous week. It was the highest price since early last month. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for regular seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price rose to $1.74 per gallon, the highest in four weeks.

The spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose to $23.46 per barrel (-62.1% y/y) in the week ended May 8. Yesterday, the price was $24.14 per barrel. This was down from the recent weekly high of $75.11 in early-October 2018. The price of Brent crude oil rose to $23.57 per barrel, its highest price since late-March. Yesterday, the price was $29.79.

The average price of natural gas increased to $1.84/mmbtu (-29.2% y/y) in the week ended May 8 from $1.71/mmbtu the previous week. The price of natural gas remained down from $4.67/mmbtu late in November 2018. Yesterday, the price fell to $1.70.

In the four weeks ending May 1, gasoline demand plummeted 39.6% y/y, while total petroleum product demand fell 27.0% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries declined 22.4% y/y in the past four weeks. At the same time, gasoline inventories rose 13.4% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 7.2% y/y.

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 05/11/20 05/04/20 04/27/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 1.85 1.79 1.77 -35.4 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 23.46 15.64 3.64 -62.1 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.84 1.71 1.85 -29.2 2.57 3.18 2.99
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