Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oil and Gasoline Prices

by Bill McBride on 3/18/2012 05:25:00 PM

From MarketWatch: Gasoline prices rise for 9th straight day

The national average price for a gallon of gas rose to $3.838, according to motorist group AAA’s fuel gauge report.

That’s up from about $3.53 a month ago.
The nation’s record high of $4.11 was set in July 2008, [CNN] said.
From the WSJ: No Relief in Sight at Pump
U.S. gasoline prices jumped 6% in February, and market experts predict they will climb higher because critical refining operations in the Northeast are shutting down.
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange are up 22% this year, and settled Friday at a 10-month high of $3.3569 a gallon. Average pump prices tend to follow futures by a few weeks, averaging about 70 cents a gallon more, after taxes and transport costs. Based on futures, retail prices should average above $4 a gallon soon.
From the WSJ: Economy Hasn't Slipped on Oil Prices—Yet

Professor Hamilton had some thoughts earlier this month on the impact on the economy: Oil prices and the U.S. economy
Although the prices of oil and gasoline have risen significantly from their values in October, they are still not back to the levels we saw last spring or in the summer of 2008. There is a good deal of statistical evidence ... that an oil price increase that does no more than reverse an earlier decline has a much more limited effect on the economy than if the price of oil surges to a new all-time high.

One reason for this is that much of the impact on the economy of an increase in oil prices comes from abrupt changes in the patterns of consumer spending. ... ut if consumers have recently seen even higher prices than they're paying at the moment, their spending plans and firms' production plans are likely already to have incorporated that reality.

... based on what has happened to oil prices so far, I find myself in the unusual position of being less concerned about the impact of oil prices on the U.S. economy than many other analysts.
It definitely hurts at the pump!

Note: The graph below shows oil prices for WTI; gasoline prices in most of the U.S. are impacted more by Brent prices.

Orange County Historical Gas Price Charts Provided by

Summary for Week ending March 16th
Schedule for Week of March 18th