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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Rise While Crude Oil Jumps
by Tom Moeller  April 26, 2011

Last week, the pump price for regular gasoline rose further to $3.88 per gallon, the highest level since August, 2008. The gain was off a low that same year 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 rose one penny last week to $3.76 per gallon. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $3.23 from an average $3.17 last week.

Crude oil prices also rose last week to $109.61 for a barrel of WTI, and remained near the highest since September, 2008. The price compares to the 2008 weekly low of $32.37. Yesterday prices jumped to $112.88 per barrel.

Higher prices continued to affect demand for petroleum products. Gasoline demand fell 1.8% on average during the last four weeks versus last year while demand for jet kerosene was off 4.7%. Conversely, the demand for residual fuel oil, used for heating, rose 2.2% y/y and distillate demand rose 6.2%. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 1.6% year-to-year compared to 10.0% growth in the middle of 2009.

Finally, natural gas prices strengthened w/w to $4.27 per mmbtu. Yesterday, prices rose further to $4.36 but 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.

Expectations of Inflation: The Biasing Effect of Thoughts about Specific Prices from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Weekly Price 4/25/11 4/18/11 4/11/11 Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.88 3.84 3.79 36.2 2.78 2.35 3.25
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl.) 109.61 108.21 109.75 32.0 79.51 61.39 100.16
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu) 4.27 4.12 4.16 7.0 4.40 3.95 8.88
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