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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Mixed, with Continuing Relief in Gasoline
by Carol Stone, CBE  August 30, 2022

• Gasoline prices decline an 11th consecutive week.

• But crude oil prices edge slightly higher.

• Natural gas prices reach highest level in 18 months.

Retail gasoline prices edged down 5 cents to $3.86 per gallon (+22.5% y/y) in the week ended last Friday, August 26, after declining to $3.91 per gallon in the prior week. Prices have declined for eleven consecutive weeks, down from a record $5.00 per gallon in the second week of June. This information is from the AAA dataset; the Energy Information Administration had technical difficulties and was delayed in publishing the most current information. While we were writing, the EIA released their gasoline price data for the week ending August 29; the weekly average was $3.938 per gallon, up 21.7% y/y, and was $3.827 per gallon on Monday, August 29, up 21.9% y/y.

Crude oil prices, in contrast, rose in the latest week. West Texas Intermediate prices averaged $94.07 per barrel (+39.3% y/y), up from $90.73 in the prior week. Yesterday, August 29, the price was $97.01 per barrel. The average price of Brent crude oil was up to $98.87 per barrel (+39.2% y/y) after falling to $96.73 the week before. The price peaked at $127.40 in mid-June. Yesterday, the price was $102.08 per barrel, according to the Financial Times.

The price of natural gas rose to $9.56/mmbtu (134.9% y/y) in the week of August 26 from $9.19/mmbtu in the previous week. It was the highest level since the third week of February 2021. Prices remained up from a low of $3.56/mmbtu in the last week of December. Yesterday, the price was $9.24/mmbtu.

In the four weeks ended August 19, gasoline demand fell 7.0% y/y compared to 15.2% y/y growth at the end of last year. Demand for all petroleum products declined 4.7% y/y, off from 14.4% growth at the end of 2021. Crude oil input to refineries increased 1.43% y/y, slightly more than the 1.38% the week before.

Gasoline inventories fell 4.5% y/y in the week of August 19 while crude oil inventories declined 17.0% y/y.

Measured in days' supply, gasoline inventories in the week ended August 19 rose to 24.3 days from 23.8 days in the prior week. The supply of crude oil eased to 25.9 days from 26.2 days the week before and remained down from 41.8 days in early-March of last year.

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.

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