Weekly Gasoline Update: A Tiny Price Increase After 9 Weeks Of Declines

by: Doug Short

It's time again for my weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gasoline prices rose fractionally last week. Rounded to the penny, the average for Regular increased two cents and Premium one cent. This is the first week of price gains after nine weeks of declines, which followed eleven weeks of price rises. Since their interim high in late February, Regular and Premium are both down 25 cents.

According to GasBuddy.com, one state, Hawaii, is averaging above $4.00 per gallon, unchanged from last week. Two states, Illinois and Alaska, are in the 3.90-4.00 range, up from no states last week.

In March, Business Insider featured a chart illustrating the gasoline price trend over the course of a year.

Click to enlarge

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, odds are that the 2013 peak prices lie ahead. So far, this year is shaping up to be different.

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

Click to enlarge

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 closed Monday at 96.16, up 1.81 from last week and 10% since its interim low in mid-April.

Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge

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).

Click to enlarge

Here are some additional commentaries related to gasoline prices: