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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Continue Upward; Natural Gas Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller  March 4, 2014

The price for a gallon of regular gasoline increased to $3.48 (-7.4% y/y) last week, up nineteen cents from the low four weeks ago. Nevertheless, prices remained below the $3.78 per gallon peak reached in February of last year. Haver Analytics constructs seasonal factors to account for seasonal volatility. The adjusted price fell seven cents last week to $3.48 per gallon.

The per barrel cost of WTI crude oil slipped last week to $102.59 (+11.2% y/y) but remained lower than the $108.67 high in early September. Yesterday, prices strengthened to $104.92 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices also fell last week to $109.10 per barrel (-2.9% y/y) but yesterday moved up to $111.06 per barrel.

Natural gas prices continued lower last week to $5.21 per mmbtu but remained up by half from prices twelve months ago. Yesterday, prices improved to $6.70 per mmbtu.

The demand for all petroleum products improved a minimal 0.6% y/y last week. Gasoline demand fell 1.5% y/y. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, strengthened 25.5% y/y while distillate demand was roughly unchanged y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products fell 3.1% y/y.

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 petroleum demand and inventory figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 03/03/14 02/24/14 02/17/14 Y/Y% 2013 2012 2011
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.48 3.44 3.38 -7.4 3.51 3.62 3.52
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 102.59 102.74 100.21 11.2 97.95 94.20 95.14
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA) 5.21 5.98 6.47 48.9 3.73 2.75 3.99
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