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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Weaken
by Tom Moeller  September 9, 2020

• Gasoline prices slip marginally.

• Crude oil prices ease, then break sharply lower.

• Natural gas prices decline sharply.

Regular gasoline prices slipped to $2.21 per gallon (-13.3% y/y) in the week ended September 7 after rising to $2.22 per gallon in the previous week. Prices remained 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 fell to $2.15 per gallon last week from $2.18 per gallon the previous week. In the week ended 1, the spot market price for regular unleaded gasoline fell to $1.24 per gallon (-17.5% y/y).

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell to an average of $41.60 per barrel (-25.4% y/y) in the week ended September 4 from $43.00 per barrel in the previous week. It was the lowest price since early-August. Yesterday, the price tumbled to $36.76 per barrel, the lowest price since mid-June. Brent crude oil prices declined to an average $44.40 per barrel (-26.0% y/y) last week from $45.58 per barrel in the previous week. Yesterday, the price dropped to $39.92 per barrel, also the lowest price since mid-June.

Natural gas prices weakened to $2.16/mmbtu (-12.2% y/y) in the week ended September 4 from $2.52/mmbtu in the previous week. They reversed earlier strength and settled at the lowest level since early last month. Yesterday, prices eased to $2.30/mmbtu.

In the four weeks ended August 28, gasoline demand declined 8.9% y/y. Total petroleum product demand fell 15.9% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries was down 17.3% y/y in the past four weeks, but generally it has risen since mid-May. Gasoline inventories were 2.3% above a year ago and inventories of all petroleum products were 7.0% 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 09/07/20 08/31/20 08/24/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.21 2.22 2.18 -13.3 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 41.60 43.00 42.72 -25.4 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.16 2.52 2.39 -12.2 2.57 3.18 2.99
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