Analysis by Dr. Nancy Yamaguchi
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended February 11, 2019. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose by 2.2 cents/gallon, while diesel prices were unchanged. Prices have been stabilizing, after experiencing dramatic declines since October 2018. National average prices for gasoline and diesel are below their levels from one year ago.
For most of January, crude oil, gasoline and diesel prices rose in futures markets. In February, the upward price movement transitioned to ups-and-downs. During the week ended February 8th, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices dropped by $2.14/b, after having risen strongly the prior week. Gasoline futures prices rose modestly by 0.69 cents/gallon. Diesel futures prices decreased slightly by 0.37 cents/gallon. Although the relationship between futures market prices and retail prices is not immediate and one-for-one, the past week suggests that the steady upward direction of futures prices may now be transitioning to a time of ups-and-downs dictated by weekly events.
For the current week ended February 11, retail diesel prices were unchanged at an average price of $2.966/gallon. The national average retail price had not been below $3/gallon since March, around ten months ago. Prior to the past three weeks, retail diesel prices had fallen for fourteen consecutive weeks. During those fourteen weeks, the price decline amounted to 42.9 cents/gallon. For the current week ended February 11, prices rose in PADD 2 and fell in all other PADDs. The national average price was 9.7 cents/gallon below its average for the same week one year ago.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices fell by 0.7 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.031/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices dropped by 1.5 cents to average $3.161/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices declined by 0.2 cents to average $3.225/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices fell by 0.7 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.872/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 8.0 cents/gallon below their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices rose by 1.0 cents to average $2.849/gallon. This was the only price increase among the PADDs. The price increases are being attributed mainly to refinery and pipeline issues. Prices were 17.1 cents/gallon below their level for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices declined slightly by 0.3 cents to average $2.776/gallon. Ten weeks ago, PADD 3 became the first PADD where retail diesel prices fell below the $3/gallon mark. PADD 3 has been joined by PADDs 2 and 4 in this distinction. Prices were 7.5 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices fell by 1.3 cents to average $2.870/gallon. This was the largest price decrease among the five PADDs. Prices were 10.2 cents lower than in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices were unchanged at an average of $3.435/gallon. This price was 0.3 cents above its level from last year. Prices excluding California decreased by 0.3 cents to reach an average of $3.084/gallon. This price was 2.3 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices rose by 0.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.714/gallon. California diesel prices were 2.5 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 2.2 cents to average $2.276/gallon during the week ended February 11. Prices declined in PADDs 1 and 3, while they rose in PADDs 2, 3 and 5. The national average price was 33.1 cents per gallon lower than it was one year ago. Prices in all PADDs are below their levels of one year ago. Gasoline retail prices have been creeping back up, but on the whole, prices remain very low. Gasoline prices have dropped by 62.7 cents/gallon since hitting a price peak in early October.
For the current week ended February11, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline fell by 0.8 cents to average $2.236/gallon. The average price was 37.0 cents below last year’s price. Within PADD 1, New England prices dropped by 1.9 cents to average $2.294/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices edged down by 0.1 cents to average $2.370/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market fell by 1.0 cent to average $2.135/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 7.0 cents to reach an average price of $2.15/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 31.3 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices rose by 2.8 cents to average $1.959/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. A little over two years ago, in December 2016, PADD 3 gasoline prices were below the $2/gallon level. PADD 3 prices once again are below this threshold. Prices for the week were 37.2 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices decreased by 0.9 cents to arrive at an average of $2.166/gallon. This was the largest price drop among the PADDs. This week’s prices were 34.4 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 0.9 cents to arrive at an average of $2.921/gallon. Three weeks ago, PADD 5 joined the rest of the PADDs in having gasoline prices fall below the $3/gallon level. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs, and it was the last PADD where average retail gasoline prices remained above their levels of last year. Excluding California, West Coast prices fell by 0.6 cents to average $2.644/gallon. This price was 12.4 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices rose by 2.4 cents to average $3.155/gallon. California prices are now 20.3 cents per gallon below their levels from the same week last year.