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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline & Crude Oil Prices Move Lower
by Tom Moeller August 24, 2010

As recent news of a softening U.S. economy emerged it helped pull energy prices lower. The pump price for regular gasoline moved four cents lower last week to $2.70 per gallon after a like decline the week earlier. Prices remained down from $2.91 in early-May. Nevertheless, pulled higher with recovery from the last recession, prices have risen from the late-2009 level of $2.61 and from the December-2008 low of $1.61. Yesterday, continuing the recent trend, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped to $1.84 from $1.89 last week. This latest figure was the lowest since late-May. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

The average price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil (WTI) dropped last week to $74.86 and the price remained down from the high of $84.23 averaged during April. Yesterday crude prices fell further to $73.10 per barrel.

U.S. natural gas prices fell last week to an average of $4.29 from an average of $4.79 per mmbtu at the beginning of the month. Yesterday, prices fell further to $4.13 and were down from an early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline increased 3.5% during the latest week versus one year ago. The demand for residual fuel oil fell by 11.1% versus last year but distillate demand rose a lessened 5.8% y/y. That's still improved from a 12.3% decline during February. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products have been rising since the winter and were up 2.0% during the last twelve months.

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 08/23/10 08/16/10 08/09/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.70 2.75 2.78 2.9% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) -- 74.86 79.08 5.7 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) -- 4.29 4.42 42.0 3.95 8.88 6.97
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