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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Product Prices Continue to Decline
by Tom Moeller  December 7, 2021

• Gasoline prices weaken.

• Crude oil prices again fall sharply.

• Natural gas prices drop.

Retail gasoline prices fell to $3.34 per gallon (+55.0% y/y) in the week ended December 6 after declining to $3.38 per gallon in the previous week. It was the lowest price in seven weeks. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for normal seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price slipped to $3.53 per gallon from $3.54 per gallon in the previous week. Typically, gasoline prices decline this time of year.

The Omicron variant and fears of travel restrictions weakened oil prices last week. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil declined 14.1% w/w (+47.4% y/y) to $66.87 per barrel in the week ended December 3 from $77.82 per barrel in the previous week. It was the lowest price since the last week of May. Yesterday, the price rebounded to $69.49 per barrel. The average price of Brent crude oil weakened 11.8% w/w (+45.5% y/y) to $70.23 per barrel last week from $79.63 per barrel in the prior week. The price was $73.45 per barrel yesterday.

Natural gas prices fell to $4.32/mmbtu (+60.6% y/y) in the week ended December 3 after easing to $4.90/mmbtu in the prior week. It was the lowest price since the last week of August, down from the $5.87/mmbtu high in the second week of October. Yesterday, the price fell sharply to $3.66/mmbtu.

In the four weeks ended November 26, gasoline demand increased 10.6% y/y, up from 6.4% y/y growth early in October. Demand for all petroleum products rose 7.1% y/y in the latest week. Crude oil input to refineries rose 11.6% y/y. Gasoline inventories fell 7.8% y/y, while crude oil inventories declined 8.0% y/y.

The supply of gasoline inventories in the week ending November 26 of 23.5 days remained down sharply from the recent high of 32.9 days in the third week of February. The supply of crude oil fell to 27.9 days and remained below the recent high of 41.8 days in the second week of March. It was the lowest level in six weeks.

These data are reported by the Energy Information Administration of 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 12/06/21 11/29/21 11/22/21 Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular, Monday) 3.34 3.38 3.40 55.0 2.24 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 66.87 77.82 79.02 47.4 39.43 56.91 64.95
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 4.32 4.90 4.91 60.6 2.03 2.57 3.18
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