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Economy in Brief

U.S. Natural Gas Prices Continue to Tumble; Petroleum Prices Ease
by Tom Moeller  December 22, 2015

Natural gas prices fell last week to $1.69 per mmbtu (-52.9% y/y) and roughly equaled the 15-year low. Increased shale-gas production has weighed heavily of prices, but as of yesterday the price decline stabilized.

WTI crude oil costs declined to $35.77 per barrel last week (-36.0% y/y), the lowest price since February 2009. Yesterday, they eased further to $34.74. Prices were down from the daily high of $113.93 in April 2011. Brent crude oil prices fell w/w to $36.84 per barrel and were $35.34 yesterday.

Gasoline prices at the pump eased last week to $2.03 per gallon, down another penny from the prior week. Prices were 15.7% lower y/y and equaled the January low. Haver Analytics constructs factors adjusting for the seasonal variation in pump prices. The seasonally adjusted price rose 3 cents to $2.27 per gallon. Declines in the spot market gasoline price stabilized at $1.24 per gallon (-21.6% y/y).

Gasoline inventories fell 1.2% y/y but inventories of all petroleum products rose 10.2% y/y. Crude oil production (input to refineries) increased 1.9% y/y during the last four weeks. Gasoline demand improved 0.7% y/y last week but demand for all petroleum products eased 0.5% y/y.

The energy price data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The petroleum demand and inventory figures are from the Oil & Gas Journal Weekly. These data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database. The daily figures are in DAILY and greater detail on prices, demand and production, along with regional breakdowns, are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 12/21/15 12/14/15 12/07/15 Y/Y% 2014 2013 2012
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.03 2.04 2.05 -15.7 2.30 3.33 3.30
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl., WSJ) 35.77 36.93 40.40 -36.0 93.64 97.96 94.20
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, WSJ) 1.69 1.94 2.12 -52.9 4.37 3.73 2.75
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