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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Rise Further With Crude Oil
by Tom Moeller  March 8, 2011

There's no way but up for petroleum prices. The pump price for regular gasoline increased last week by fourteen cents to $3.52 per gallon, the highest since October-2008 and more-than double the December-2008 low of $1.61. Typically, pump prices decline this time of year due to lessened seasonal demand. To account for this pattern, Haver Analytics calculates seasonal factors. The adjusted gasoline price moved higher to $3.65 per gallon last week. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose a penny to $2.84 from an average $2.83 last week.

Crude oil prices, up with continued political unrest in the Middle East, rose another five dollars last week to $100.92 for a barrel of crude oil (WTI). The price compares to an average $79.51 during all of last year. Yesterday prices rose further to $105.44 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices surged as well to $115.50 yesterday from $98.63 at the end of January.

Demand for gasoline improved by 1.0% last week versus last year. The demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, fell back by 2.1% but distillate demand inched up 0.2% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products ticked were essentially unchanged during the last twelve months, down from a peak 11% in September 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices held roughly steady w/w at $3.82 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices slipped further to $3.76 and remained down from last year's early-January high of $6.50.

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 Price 3/7/11 2/28/11 2/21/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.52 3.38 3.19 28.0 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 100.92 95.95 85.34 25.9 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 3.82 3.83 3.89 -19.6 4.40 3.95 8.88
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