The Labor Day holiday marked the end of the peak driving season, a good occasion to review the most recent data on gasoline consumption, which accounts for almost 10% of global liquid fuels consumption. For the first half of 2013, EIA data show gasoline consumption lower than the comparable 2012 period by 50,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), or 0.6%, lower than in the comparable 2012 period (see chart at right). Economic growth, gasoline prices, and vehicle fleet efficiency are key determinants of gasoline use.
So far in 2013, year-over-year economic growth and slightly lower retail gasoline prices, a combination that would generally lead to increased gasoline consumption, have been more than offset by the increased fuel efficiency of the light-duty vehicle fleet, EIA says.
Crude Oil --
October 2013 WTI crude oil opened today at $108.52 and has twice tested resistance at $110.35 suggesting WTI is looking for some upside room to run. Next resistance lies at $114.83 from May 2011. A violation of that level would put WTI back to 2008 levels which included a contract high in July at $147.27. More WTI is making its way to the global supply chain and as producers look to capture higher prices, Brent is holding WTI captive at the top of its range.
U.S. crude inventories fell 1.8 million barrels to 360.2 million barrels -- now 3.1 million barrels above year-ago.
October 13 Brent crude oil futures opened today at $115.26 and extended gains to top this week's high at $116.06. Next resistance lies at last week's Thursday daily high of $116.86. Next support lies at $115.30 and $115.10. A violation of that level would suggest downside potential to $114.35. Tensions in Syria and continued supply problems in Libya will limit downside potential for Brent crude near-term.
Currently, the WTI/Brent crude spread stands at $6.74 with Brent on top -- 14 cents wider than the same time last week.
According to EIA, the U.S. average retail price of regular gasoline increased six cents to $3.61 per gallon as of September 2, 2013, 24 cents lower than last year at this time. Prices were up in all regions of the country with the largest increase coming in the Midwest, where the price grew by 11 cents to $3.63 per gallon to mark the largest one-week increase since July 15, 2013. The East Coast price was $3.61 per gallon, an increase of five cents from last week. Increasing two cents from last week, the Gulf Coast price was $3.41 per gallon. The West Coast price rose half a cent but remained at $3.75 per gallon and the Rocky Mountain region had the smallest gain of less than a penny to $3.63 per gallon.
The national average diesel fuel price increased seven cents to $3.98 per gallon, 15 cents lower than last year at this time. Prices increased in all regions of the nation with the largest increase in the Midwest where the price rose eight cents to $3.97 per gallon, the highest price since April 1, 2013. Prices increased seven cents on the East Coast and the Gulf Coast to $3.99 per gallon and $3.90 per gallon, respectively. The West Coast price was $4.13 per gallon, a gain of six cents from last week. Rounding out the regions, the Rocky Mountain price moved up a penny to $3.94 per gallon, according to EIA.
Farm Diesel moved a penny higher according to Inputs Monitor data to a regional average of $3.43/gallon with six of the twelve states in our index unchanged. The highest price was recorded again in the state of North Dakota at $3.61, up 2 cents over last week, while Ohio captured the regionwide low at $3.29 -- unchanged on the week.
According to EIA, total U.S. propane inventories increased by 2.5 million barrels last week to end at 64.6 million barrels, about 7.9 million barrels (10.9%) lower than the same week last year. Gulf Coast stocks rose 1.4 million barrels and Midwest stocks were up 1.0 million barrels. East Coast and Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories each grew by 0.6 million barrels.
Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 4.4% of total propane inventories.
LP moved 2 cents higher in the Inputs Monitor Index to $1.408. The lowest priced LP in our index is in North Dakota at $1.24 while the high mark is at $1.75 in Michigan.
The national distillate supply added 0.5 million barrels to 129.6 -- 2.5 million barrels above year-ago.
Graphs and partial text provided by EIA.