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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Rise While Crude Oil Costs Ease
by Tom Moeller  May 7, 2019

Retail gasoline prices improved by one penny last week to $2.90 per gallon (1.8% y/y) after rising five cents during the prior week. It was the highest level since early-October and roughly matched the 2018 high. Haver Analytics constructs factors adjusting for the seasonal variation in gasoline pump prices. The seasonally-adjusted price held steady at $2.80 per gallon, also near the one-year high.

After weeks of strength, West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices backed off to an average of $62.91 per barrel last week (-8.0% y/y). That came after rising to an average $65.26 in the prior period. The latest price was the lowest in four weeks. Yesterday, prices eased to $62.25 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices fell to an average of $71.42 per barrel last week (-3.4% y/y) from its four-week high of $73.82. The price was $71.48 yesterday.

Natural gas prices improved to $2.59/mmbtu last week (-5.8% y/y) then slipped to $2.54 yesterday. These remained the lowest prices since February 2018 and below the early-March high of $3.28/mmbtu.

In the four-weeks ending April 26, gasoline demand rose 1.5% y/y, while total petroleum product demand improved 0.5% y/y. Gasoline inventories declined 4.7% y/y, while inventories of all petroleum products gained 2.5% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries fell 2.9% y/y in the last four weeks.

These data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The price data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY and DAILY databases. Greater detail on prices, as well as the demand, production and inventory data, along with regional breakdowns, are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 5/6/19 4/29/19 4/22/19 Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.90 2.89 2.84 1.8 2.27 2.47 2.31
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 62.91 65.26 63.80 -8.0 64.95 50.87 43.22
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.59 2.56 2.63 -5.8 3.15 2.96 2.49
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