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 March 11, 2019. Prices for both fuels rose in all PADDs countrywide for the third week in a row. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose by 4.9 cents/gallon. Diesel prices edged up only slightly by 0.3 cents/gallon. In early February, retail prices began to stabilize, pulling out of the downward slide seen since prices peaked in October 2018. National average prices for gasoline remain below their levels from one year ago. However, diesel prices are higher than they were at the same time last year, and prices have risen above the $3/gallon level again.

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, with prices trending mainly up. During the week ended March 8th, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices rose slightly by $0.24/b (0.4%.) Gasoline futures prices jumped by 7.32 cents/gallon (4.2%,) mainly because futures contracts shifted to the next forward month and low-RVP grades. Diesel futures prices were essentially flat, edging down by a fraction of a cent. Although the relationship between futures market prices and retail prices is not immediate and one-for-one, the most recent trend in futures prices suggests that gasoline prices will rise in the coming week, but that diesel price increases may be moderate.

For the current week ended March 11, retail diesel prices up slightly by 0.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.079/gallon. Three weeks ago, the national average retail price rose back above $3/gallon level. Between mid-October and late-January, retail diesel prices fell for fourteen consecutive weeks. During those fourteen weeks, the price decline amounted to 42.9 cents/gallon. For the current week ended March 11, prices rose in all PADDs except for the Midwest PADD 2. The national average price was 10.3 cents/gallon above its level of last year.

In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices rose by 0.4 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.123/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 0.6 cents to average $3.183/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices increased by 1.4 cents to average $3.315/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices fell by 0.4 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.981/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 9.9 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year.

In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices declined modestly by 0.3 cents to average $3.011/gallon. This was the only PADD where prices fell. Prices were 11.2 cents/gallon above their level for the same week last year.

In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices rose by 1.1 cents to average $2.881/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. Fourteen weeks ago, PADD 3 became the first PADD where retail diesel prices fell below the $3/gallon mark. Diesel prices in PADDs 2 and 4 subsequently fell below the $3/gallon level as well, but PADD 2 prices rose back above the $3/gallon level. Prices were 9.9 cents higher than for the same week in the previous year.

In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices were unchanged at an average of $2.939/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 3.6 cents higher than in the prior year.

In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose slightly by 0.2 cent to reach an average of $3.505/gallon. This price was 11.9 cents above its level from last year. Prices excluding California increased by 0.7 cents to reach an average of $3.162/gallon. This price was 11.0 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices declined modestly by 0.1 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.778/gallon. California diesel prices were 12.6 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.

U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 4.9 cents to average $2.471/gallon during the week ended March 11. Prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price was 8.8 cents per gallon lower than it was one year ago. Gasoline prices are 43.2 cents/gallon below the peak price hit in early October.

For the current week ended March 11, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose by 4.5 cents to average $2.430/gallon. The average price was 7.9 cents below last year’s price. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 3.5 cents to average $2.424/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 5.5 cents to average $2.546/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market rose by 4.0 cents to average $2.358/gallon.

In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices jumped by 7.1 cents to reach an average price of $2.40/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 3.9 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.

In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices rose by 3.6 cents to average $2.217/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. Prices for the week were 5.7 cents lower than for the same week last year.

In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices increased by 4.1 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.253/gallon. This week’s prices were 17.0 cents lower than at the same time last year.

In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices increased by 3.3 cents to arrive at an average of $2.978/gallon. Seven weeks ago, PADD 5 joined the rest of the PADDs in having gasoline prices fall below the $3/gallon level, though prices have been creeping up steadily and are approaching the $3/gallon mark. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. Excluding California, West Coast prices rose by 3.8 cents to average $2.682/gallon. This price was 10.5 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices rose by 2.8 cents to average $3.223/gallon. California prices are now 16.9 cents per gallon below their levels from the same week last year.