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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline & Crude Oil Prices Continue to Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  March 2, 2021

• Gasoline prices rise as driving increases.

• Oil prices rise further with production cutbacks.

• Natural gas prices weaken following surge.

The price of regular gasoline strengthened to $2.71 per gallon (11.9% y/y) in the week ended March 1, its highest level since July 2019. Stimulus checks and coronavirus vaccines encourage driving. The price increased from $2.11 per gallon in November of last year. The spot market price similarly increased to $1.86 per gallon in week prior. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for normal seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price rose to $2.86 per gallon last week from $2.83 in the previous week.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices also strengthened to an average of $62.32 per barrel (28.9% y/y) in the week ended February 26 from $60.21 per barrel in the previous week as output was shut down due to freezing temperatures in the south. The price eased to $60.64 per barrel yesterday. The average price of Brent crude oil increased to $65.62 per barrel (22.7% y/y) last week from $63.50 in the previous week. The price slipped to $63.66 yesterday.

The price of natural gas fell to $2.86/mmbtu (52.1% y/y) in the week ended February 26 after surging to $12.18/mmbtu in the previous week. Yesterday, the price eased further to $2.70/mmbtu as pipelines continued to open up.

In the four weeks ended February 19, gasoline demand fell 20.2% y/y while demand for all petroleum products declined 5.9% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries fell 23.6% y/y. Gasoline inventories rose 0.3% y/y. The supply of gasoline in inventory in the week ended February 19 was 32.9 days, up from a recent low of 26.1 days in early-October.

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 are in USENERGY.

Some Preliminary Financial Stability Lessons from the COVID-19 Shock from Fed Governor Lael Brainard is available here.

Weekly Energy Prices 03/01/21 02/22/21 02/15/21 Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular, Monday) 2.71 2.63 2.50 11.9 2.24 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 62.32 60.21 58.54 28.9 39.43 56.91 64.95
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 2.86 12.18 4.63 52.1 2.03 2.57 3.18
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