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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Continue to Rise
by Tom Moeller  January 19, 2021

• Gasoline prices reach March 2020 high.

• Oil prices increase as pandemic shuts down crude oil output.

• Natural gas prices continue to rise with seasonal demand.

The price of regular gasoline rose to $2.38 per gallon (-6.2% y/y) in the week ended January 18 from $2.32 per gallon in the previous week. It was the highest price since the first week of March 2020. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for normal seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price rose to $2.58 per gallon last week, its highest level since late-February 2020, from $2.50 in the previous week.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices rose to an average of $52.81 per barrel (-9.4% y/y) in the week ended January 15, the highest reading since the third week of February 2020. The price was elevated from the $17.47 per barrel low averaged in April of last year. The average price of Brent crude oil increased to $55.91 (-13.3% y/y) last week from $53.14 per barrel in the previous week.

The price of natural gas strengthened to $2.82/mmbtu (+36.9% y/y) in the week ended January 15 from $2.74/mmbtu in the previous week. Prices remained substantially higher than the $1.52/mmbtu low in the third week of June.

In the four weeks ended January 8, gasoline demand fell 11.0% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries fell 15.9% y/y. Gasoline inventories fell 5.0% y/y while inventories of all petroleum products rose 2.5% y/y. The supply of gasoline in inventory in the week ended January 8 was 31.5 days, up from a recent low of 26.4 days in mid-October.

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 are in USENERGY.

Weekly Energy Prices 01/18/21 01/11/21 01/04/21 Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular, Monday) 2.38 2.32 2.25 -6.2 2.24 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 52.81 50.23 48.07 -9.4 39.43 56.91 64.95
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.82 2.74 2.38 36.9 2.03 2.57 3.18
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