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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum & Natural Gas Prices Continue to Improve
by Tom Moeller  July 14, 2020

• Gasoline prices rise moderately.

• Crude oil prices approach March high.

• Natural gas prices improve.

The price for regular gasoline improved to $2.20 per gallon (-21.0% y/y) in the week ended July 13 from $2.18 in the previous week. Prices stood at the highest level since just prior to the coronavirus lockdowns. The spot market price rose to $1.21 per gallon last week. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for regular seasonal variation. Seasonally-adjusted prices held steady at $2.10 per gallon.

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil increased to an average $40.43 per barrel (-31.6% y/y) in the week ended July 10 from $39.85 in the prior week. It was the highest price since early-March when prices touched $45.35 per barrel. Yesterday, the price eased to $40.10 per barrel. The price of Brent crude oil rose to $43.06 per barrel (-34.7% y/y) from $42.30. Yesterday, the price was $42.85 per barrel.

The average price of natural gas rose to $1.78/mmbtu (-27.9% y/y) in the week ended July 10 after improving to $1.68 in the previous week. It was the highest price in two months, but the price remained below the $4.67/mmbtu peak in late-November 2018. Yesterday, the price rose to $1.71/mmbtu.

The strength in gasoline prices stems from a recent improvement in demand which has surged by 58.6% since late-April. Nevertheless, in the four weeks ending July 3 gasoline demand is down 12.5% y/y. Total petroleum product demand weakened 15.1% y/y, though it has risen by 22.4% during the last ten weeks. Crude oil input to refineries declined 19.5% y/y in the past four weeks, but it has risen sharply since mid-May. Gasoline inventories rose 9.8% y/y and inventories of all petroleum products increased 8.9% 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 07/13/20 07/06/20 06/29/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.20 2.18 2.17 -21.0 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 40.43 39.85 39.25 -31.6 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.78 1.68 1.57 -27.9 2.57 3.18 2.99
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