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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  May 19, 2020

• Gasoline prices continue to increase.

• Crude oil prices rise to highest level since early-March.

• Natural gas prices fall to six-week low.

Retail gasoline prices increased to $1.88 per gallon (-34.2% y/y) in the week ended May 18 from $1.85 per gallon in the previous week. It was the third straight week of increase. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for regular seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price rose to $1.75 per gallon, the highest in five weeks.

The spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose to $26.41 per barrel (-37.5% y/y) in the week ended May 15. Yesterday, the price strengthened to $31.82 per barrel. This remained below the weekly high of $75.11 in early-October 2018. The price of Brent crude oil rose to $28.18 per barrel from $23.57. Yesterday, the price was $33.30.

The average price of natural gas declined to $1.63/mmbtu (-39.0% y/y) in the week ended May 15 after rising to $1.84/mmbtu the previous week. The price of natural gas remained down from $4.67/mmbtu late in November 2018. Yesterday, the price fell to $1.77.

In the four weeks ending May 8, gasoline demand weakened by one-third y/y, while total petroleum product demand fell 22.8% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries declined 23.5% y/y in the past four weeks. Gasoline inventories rose 12.4% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 6.5% 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 05/18/20 05/11/20 05/04/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 1.88 1.85 1.79 -34.2 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 26.41 23.46 15.64 -37.5 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.63 1.84 1.71 -39.0 2.57 3.18 2.99
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