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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Steady; Other Energy Prices Edged Up
by Sandy Batten  August 18, 2020

• Gasoline prices unchanged.

• Crude oil prices edged up.

• Natural gas prices rise to highest level since December 2019.

Regular gasoline prices were unchanged at $2.17 per gallon (-16.6% y/y) in the week ended August 17. Prices have been fairly steady since late June, remaining near the highest level since just prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Apple driving data has risen to levels slightly higher than just before the lockdowns, implying that demand for gasoline should be returning to pre-lockdown levels. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for usual seasonal variation. Seasonally adjusted prices were also unchanged in the week ended August 17 at $2.13 per gallon.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil edged up to an average of $42.08 per barrel (-23.9% y/y) in the week ended August 14 from $41.56 per barrel in the previous week. Prices remained below early March, ahead of the lockdowns, when they touched $45.35 per barrel. Yesterday, the price was $42.89 per barrel. The price of Brent crude oil rose to $44.54 per barrel (-23.5% y/y) last week from $44.36 per barrel in the previous week. Yesterday, the price was $44.91 per barrel.

The average price of natural gas rose to $2.17/mmbtu (-1.8% y/y) in the week ended August 14, the third consecutive weekly increase, after having jumped to $2.13/mmbtu in the previous week. It was the highest weekly price since December 2019. Yesterday, the price rose further to $2.32/mmbtu, the highest price since December 5, 2019.

In the four weeks ending August 7, gasoline demand declined 10.2% y/y. Total petroleum product demand fell 14.3% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries was down 15.9% y/y in the past four weeks, but it has risen sharply since mid-May. Gasoline inventories were 5.7% above a year ago and inventories of all petroleum products were 7.6% higher than a year ago.

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 08/17/20 08/10/20 08/03/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.17 2.17 2.18 -16.6 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 42.08 41.56 40.73 -23.9 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.17 2.13 1.82 -1.8 2.57 3.18 2.99
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