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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Down Last Week With Lessened Demand
by Tom Moeller September 23, 2008

Last week, the U.S. pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline reversed most of the prior period's strength. It fell twelve cents to an average of $3.72, according to the U.S. Department of Energy survey. The price still was elevated, however, by damage to refineries caused by Hurricane Ike. For all grades of gasoline the average price similarly fell last week by twelve cents to $3.77 per gallon.

Yesterday the spot market price for regular gasoline jumped by seven cents to $2.77 per gallon. That followed a twelve cent rise last Friday. Nevertheless, the latest rise left spot prices slightly below the level of last Wednesday. In futures trading the November contract was stronger and rose thirteen cents to $2.68 per gallon, the highest level since early-September.

Weekly gasoline prices can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database, daily prices are in the DAILY database.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the demand for gasoline fell 1.4% during the last four weeks. That was the largest weekly decline in a year and for the most part it reflected the seasonal decline in driving. Year-to-year, however, the drop still left gasoline demand off 2.67% year-to-year.

The DOE figures are available in Haver's OILWKLY database.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell last week to an average $97.29 per barrel. That's down from the high in July of $145.66.

Yesterday, the price for crude oil jumped to $16.40 per barrel from Friday to $120.92. That was the highest close since late-August. The two-month futures price, however, was less strong and rose $6.60 per barrel to $109.37.

Last week, prices for natural gas ticked up twenty cents w/w to an average $7.90 per mmbtu (+27.2% y/y). Prices reversed that strength yesterday and fell back to $7.67/mmbtu. The high for natural gas prices was in early-July at $13.19/mmbtu.

This morning's testimony by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on U.S. financial markets can be found here.

Weekly Prices 09/22/08 09/15/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 3.72 3.84 32.2% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 97.29 102.85 18.4% 72.25 66.12 56.60
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