It's time again for my weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). After a fractional increase the week before, gasoline prices rose more substantially last week. Rounded to the penny, the average for Regular increased seven cents and Premium five cents. This is the second week of price gains after nine weeks of declines, which followed eleven weeks of price rises. Since their interim high in late February, Regular is down 18 cents and Premium 20 cents.
According to GasBuddy.com, four states are averaging above $4.00 per gallon: Hawaii, California, and Illinois. Last week only Hawaii held that dubious distinction. Two states, Washington and Oregon, are in the 3.90-4.00 range.
In March 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, 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.
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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 95.03, down 0.68 from last week.
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.
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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).