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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  May 27, 2020

• Gasoline prices rise to just under $2.00 per gallon.

• Crude oil prices continue to increase.

• Natural gas prices improve a bit.

Retail gasoline prices increased to $1.96 per gallon (-30.5% y/y) in the week ended May 25 from $1.88 per gallon in the previous week. It was the fourth straight week of increase. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for regular seasonal variation. The seasonally-adjusted price rose to $1.82 per gallon, the highest level since early-April.

The spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil strengthened to an average $32.96 per barrel (-45.8% y/y) in the week ended May 22, as OPEC production cutbacks limited supply. Yesterday, the price improved to $34.35 per barrel. This remained below the weekly high of $75.11 in early-October 2018. The price of Brent crude oil rose to $33.94 per barrel from $28.18. Yesterday, the price was $33.95.

The average price of natural gas rose to $1.78/mmbtu (-33.2% y/y) in the week ended May 22 and recovered most of the prior week's decline to $1.63/mmbtu. 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 15, gasoline demand weakened 29.1% y/y, while total petroleum product demand fell 19.0% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries declined 22.8% y/y in the past four weeks. Gasoline inventories rose 11.8% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 6.0% 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 05/25/20 05/18/20 05/11/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 1.96 1.88 1.85 -30.5 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 32.96 26.41 23.46 -45.8 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.78 1.63 1.84 -33.2 2.57 3.18 2.99
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