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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Strengthen Again
by Tom Moeller  September 1, 2020

• Gasoline prices increase to March 2020 high.

• Crude oil prices improve modestly.

• Natural gas prices continue to rise.

Regular gasoline prices increased to $2.22 per gallon (-13.3% y/y) in the week ended August 31 after rising to $2.18 per gallon in the previous week. Prices were at the highest level since the third week of March and have improved from the late-April low of $1.77 per gallon. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for usual seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price rose to $2.18 per gallon last week from $2.16 per gallon the previous week. In the week ended August 25, the spot market price for regular unleaded gasoline rose to $1.37 per gallon (18.5% y/y).

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil edged up to an average of $43.00 per barrel (-22.1% y/y) in the week ended August 28 from $42.72 per barrel in the previous week. Prices have risen from $20.62 per barrel late in March. Yesterday, the price was $42.61 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices rose to $45.58 per barrel (-22.4% y/y) from $44.95 per barrel in the previous week. Yesterday, the price was $45.45 per barrel.

Natural gas prices strengthened to $2.52/mmbtu (10.5% y/y) in the week ended August 28 from $2.39/mmbtu in the previous week. This was the fifth consecutive weekly increase and left the weekly price at its highest level since late-November 2019. Yesterday, the price eased to $2.30/mmbtu.

In the four weeks ended August 21, gasoline demand declined 9.8% y/y. Total petroleum product demand fell 14.6% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries was down 16.7% y/y in the past four weeks, but generally it has risen since mid-May. Gasoline inventories were 3.1% above a year ago and inventories of all petroleum products were 7.2% higher 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 08/31/20 08/24/20 08/17/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.22 2.18 2.17 -13.3 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 43.00 42.72 42.09 -22.1 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.52 2.39 2.17 10.5 2.57 3.18 2.99
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