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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Gasoline Prices Recover Somewhat
by Tom Moeller February 23, 2010

Continuing to move generally in a sideways pattern, the pump price for regular gasoline rose last week to $2.66. Nevertheless, prices remained up by more than one-third from last year. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to its highest level since January. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) oil recovered prior weakness and rose last week to $78.30. Nevertheless, it was down from the early-January high of $82.59. Yesterday, the spot price was up further to $80.16. Prices have risen from $71.53 early this past December and are more than double the December 2008 low of $32.37.

Demand for gasoline fell 3.0% last week versus one year ago. That decline compared to a 3.9% increase at the beginning of October. Breaking away from earlier y/y strength, the demand for residual fuel oil fell 3.7% y/y. Distillate demand fell 12.3% y/y, a decline more moderate than the 21.6% y/y shortfall at the beginning of last July. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped in February but were up 0.7% from one year ago.

U.S. natural gas prices have been roughly flat this year as temperatures have been volatile. They fell to an average $5.40 per mmbtu (+25.21% y/y) from the high of $6.50 early in January. Nevertheless they remained double the September low.

The energy price data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database while the daily figures are in DAILY. The gasoline demand figures are in OILWKLY

Weekly Prices 02/22/10 02/15/10 02/08/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.66 2.61 2.65 39.1% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 78.30 73.91 74.59 111.7% 61.39 100.16 72.25
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