We have had some dog days here in Terry, Montana this summer and the price of gasoline has been scorching upward right along with the heat. The spot market for gasoline and diesel prices dropped like a rock Monday, but Tuesday morning brought new hope and both of them are both back up. Gasoline is heading the pack but the price of crude oil is back down some more to $68.05 down $1.91 a barrel for the day.
For a further explanation on why gasoline prices are going up while we are still suffering from a recession we look toward the stalwart of all banking institutions, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and its subsidiary Merrill Lynch.
In a report to investors Francisco Blanch, head of commodities research at Merrill Lynch, said that investors are flocking back into commodities after substantial withdrawals in the second part of last year, on the back of rising prices and a recovery in risk appetite.
"Our estimates put the total amount of money currently invested in commodity indices at about $125 billion, up from a trough of $80 billion dollars in February," he said.
But it does not explain that people filling up their tanks are paying more and driving less due to a slacking economy. The unemployment rate has almost doubled from 5 % in April 2008 to 9.7 % in July 2009 per today's U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Crude prices have been driven higher since the first of this year by a combination of OPEC capacity cuts and continued strong demand from Asia, particularly China and India. China’s oil demand in July increased 3.5% over the same period last year as imports continue to rise. This has pushed the price of crude up even though consumption is down around the world. But the winter months will exacerbate this already clouded picture with crude oil expected to steep downward from the current $70 to $40 a barrel.
Crude oil and gasoline prices will be scorchers for just another month and like comets fizzle out over the horizon with a trail of rocks tailing behind. Fall will bring welcome relief to the exhausted gasoline consumers. The other good news they will be enjoying is lower heating oil and natural gas prices. Diesel prices will move down with crude oil prices and red dye diesel will be down to $1.50 per gallon in time for a cold winter predicted for most of the country. There seems to be no floor on the price of natural gas, which is now at around $2.50 per million cubic feet versus $16.25 just a year ago.
Disclosure: The writer does not any investment in commodities or equities.