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Economy in Brief

U.S. Crude Oil Prices Near January Low; Gasoline Pries Slip
by Tom Moeller  August 12, 2014

The price for a gallon of regular gasoline declined another penny last week to $3.51 (-1.6% y/y). Prices remained down from the $3.78 per gallon peak reached in February of last year. To account for seasonal volatility, Haver Analytics constructs factors for adjustment of pump prices. The adjusted cost of gasoline fell another five cents to $3.37 per gallon, down for the sixth straight week.

WTI crude oil prices posted a sharp decline to $97.50 per barrel (-7.2% y/y) from $102.19. It was the lowest level since January. The seasonally adjusted price, generated by Haver, declined to $96.60 per barrel yet remained up versus $92.19 in early-May. Yesterday, prices stabilized at $98.08. Brent crude oil prices declined last week to $103.84 per barrel (-4.5% y/y) and yesterday were $103.39.

Natural gas prices notched up last week to $3.88 per mmbtu (+17.1% y/y) but remained near the lowest level since late-November. Yesterday, prices improved further to $3.95.

The demand for all petroleum products was essentially unchanged last week versus last year. Gasoline demand edged 0.3% y/y higher. Residual fuel oil needs, used for heating, fell by roughly one-third y/y while distillate demand fell 2.9% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped 0.3% y/y and gasoline inventories fell 4.4% 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 08/11/14 08/04/14 07/28/14 Y/Y% 2013 2012 2011
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 3.51 3.52 3.54 -1.6 3.51 3.62 3.52
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 97.50 102.19 104.35 -7.2 97.95 94.20 95.14
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, WSJ) 3.88 3.76 3.80 17.1 3.73 2.75 3.99
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