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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Reach Another High
by Tom Moeller May 4,2010

Each week it's the same story. The cost of regular gasoline reached another high. Last week the price for a gallon rose to $2.90, up more than three-quarters since December of 2008. Yesterday, the rise in the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline took a breather and fell eight percent from last week's high. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

Higher crude oil costs continue behind the rise in gasoline prices. For all of April, the price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) averaged $84.23 versus $81.01 in March. That's up from the December 2008 low of $32.37. Yesterday, the spot price rose further to $86.19.

Improved demand for gasoline has been part of the story driving prices higher. Demand for gasoline rose 1.6% last week versus one year ago but that compares with a 3.0% decline in early-February. The demand for residual fuel oil rose an easier 5.8% and distillate demand fell 3.0% y/y. That's improved, however, from a 12.3% decline during February. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products improved through April but still were down slightly from one year ago.

U.S. natural gas prices continued to slide last week to an average $4.03 per mmbtu (+2.6% y/y). Prices reached a high of $6.50 early in January. Nevertheless, prices remained nearly 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 05/03/10 04/25/10 04/18/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.90 2.85 2.86 39.5% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 84.24 83.04 84.60 65.0% 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas Price ($/mmbtu) 4.13 3.99 4.09 25.4% 3.95 8.88 6.97
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