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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Begin Upward Creep With Crude Oil
by Tom Moeller   November 09, 2010

Stability has turned toward an upward move amongst energy prices. The pump price for regular gasoline rose to $2.87 per gallon last week, up  six cents w/w and up nearly twenty cents since early-September. Prices rose from the late-2009 level of $2.61 and from the December-2008 low of $1.61. Yesterday the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline of $2.20 was up from $2.18 averaged during last week.

Crude oil prices also have been firm. Last week's average price for a barrel of light sweet crude oil (WTI) of $84.79 was near the early-October level which was the highest since May. Yesterday crude prices moved even higher to $87.06 per barrel. Natural gas prices improved last week to an average of $3.42 per mmbtu but that was down from $3.91 during September. Yesterday, prices improved further to $3.57 but remained down from an early-January high of $6.50.

Demand for gasoline was stable versus one year ago. Due to the weaker economy and higher prices, the stability followed increases above 2% through August. The demand for residual fuel oil fell by more nearly one-half versus last year but distillate demand rose 11.1% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products have been rising since the winter and were up 2.2% during the last twelve months.

The energy price data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database. The daily figures are in DAILY and the gasoline demand figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Prices 11/08/10 11/01/10 10/25/10 Y/Y% 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.87 2.81 2.82 7.5 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI($ per bbl.) 84.79 82.02 81.12 7.3 61.39 100.16 72.25
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.42 3.31 3.37 -20.0 3.95 8.88 6.97
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