Weekly Gasoline Update: Down $0.02

by: Doug Short

Here is my weekly gasoline chart update from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Prices rose again over the past week. Rounded to the penny, the average for Regular and Premium fell by two cents. This is the first decline in eleven weeks. With the expiration of the 2% FICA tax holiday, the rise in gasoline prices since mid-December has been painful to the average household.

According to GasBuddy.com, two states, Hawaii and California and Alaska are averaging above $4.00 per gallon. Two states (New York and Connecticut) and Washington DC are averaging above $3.90.

Earlier today Business Insider featured a chart illustrating the gasoline price trend over the course of a year.

However, if we dig into EIA the data, we find that over the past 20 years, the weekly high for the average retail price of all gasoline formulations occurred in May seven times, in August four times, twice in November and once January, April, June, July, September, October and December. February and March don't make the list. If history is a guide, we can expect that 2013 peak prices lie ahead.

How far are we from the interim high prices of 2011 and the all-time highs of 2008? Here's a visual answer.

The next chart is a weekly chart overlay of West Texas Intermediate Crude, Brent Crude and unleaded gasoline end-of-day spot prices (GASO). WTIC is closed today at 90.29, down 1.89 from last Monday and 7.8% since its interim closing high of 97.96 on January 30th. Is the falling price of oil finally becoming visible at the pump?

The volatility in crude oil and gasoline prices has been clearly reflected in recent years in both the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE). For additional perspective on how energy prices are factored into the CPI, see What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index.

The chart below offers a comparison of the broader aggregate category of energy inflation since 2000, based on categories within Consumer Price Index (commentary here).