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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Rose in Most Recent Week
by Sandy Batten  August 25, 2020

• Gasoline prices edged up but have been range-bound since late June.

• Crude oil prices rose for third consecutive week to highest level since early March.

• Natural gas prices jumped up to highest level since November 2019.

Regular gasoline prices edged up to $2.18 per gallon (-15.2% y/y) in the week ended August 24 from $2.17 per gallon in the previous week. Prices have been fairly steady since late June, remaining near the highest level since just prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Apple driving data have risen to levels slightly higher than just before the lockdowns but the rise has slowed recently. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for usual seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price rose to $2.16 per gallon in the week ended August 24 from $2.13 per gallon the previous week.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose to an average of $42.73 per barrel (-23.0% y/y) in the week ended August 21 from $42.09 per barrel in the previous week. Prices remained below early March, ahead of the lockdowns, when they touched $45.55 per barrel. Yesterday, the price was $42.62 per barrel. The price of Brent crude oil rose to $44.79 per barrel (-24.8% y/y) from $44.54 per barrel in the previous week. Yesterday, the price was $44.43 per barrel.

The average price of natural gas jumped up to $2.39/mmbtu (+5.3% y/y) in the week ended August 21 from $2.17/mmbtu in the previous week. This was the fourth consecutive weekly increase and pushed the weekly price to its highest level since the week ended November 29, 2019. Yesterday, the price jumped again to $2.57/mmbtu, the highest daily price since November 22, 2019.

In the four weeks ended August 14, gasoline demand declined 9.9% y/y. Total petroleum product demand fell 14.3% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries was down 16.3% y/y in the past four weeks, but it has risen since mid-May. Gasoline inventories were 4.1% above a year ago and inventories of all petroleum products were 7.1% higher than a year ago.

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 08/24/20 08/17/20 08/10/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.18 2.17 2.17 -15.2 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 42.73 42.09 41.56 -23.0 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.39 2.17 2.13 5.3 2.57 3.18 2.99
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