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Economy in Brief

U.S. Petroleum Prices Lower With Economic Recovery Concerns
by Tom Moeller May 18,2010

U.S. petroleum prices have come under pressure with worries about the strength of the global economic recovery. Those worries spilled through to a slightly lower pump price of regular gasoline to $2.86 last week, but that remained up more than three-quarters since December of 2008. Yesterday the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline was thirty cents (14%) below the high averaged during the last week of April. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

Crude oil costs continued lower as concerns rose regarding the shape of the global financial market and the worldwide economic recovery. The average price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) fell last week to $74.97 versus $84.23 averaged during April. Yesterday, crude prices fell further to $70.08.

Demand for gasoline rose 2.1% last week versus one year ago and that compares with a 3.0% decline in early-February. The demand for residual fuel oil rose an easier 4.6% and distillate demand recovered 6.3% y/y. That's improved from a 12.3% decline during February. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products improved into May but still were down moderately from one year ago.

U.S. natural gas prices increased modestly last week to an average $4.20 per mmbtu (-0.7% 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 05/17/10 05/10/10 05/03/10 y/y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.86 2.91 2.90 24.0% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 74.97 80.22 84.24 29.1% 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas Price ($/mmbtu) 4.20 3.96 4.13 -0.7% 3.95 8.88 6.97
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