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 18, 2019. Gasoline prices rose in all PADDs countrywide for the fourth week in a row. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose significantly by 7.7 cents/gallon. Retail diesel prices, in contrast, declined by 0.9 cents/gallon. 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 remained above the $3/gallon level despite the week’s price decrease.
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. March appears to be bringing additional strength to oil prices. During the week ended March 15, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices rose strongly by $2.45/b (4.3%.) Gasoline futures prices rose by 6.01 cents/gallon (3.3%.) Diesel futures prices fell by 2.8 cents/gallon. 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 prices may decline slightly.
For the current week ended March 18, retail diesel prices declined by 0.9 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.070/gallon. Four weeks ago, the national average retail price rose back above the $3/gallon level. Before this, prices had been unusually low. Between mid-October and late-January, retail diesel prices fell for fourteen consecutive weeks. During those fourteen weeks, the price decline totaled 42.9 cents/gallon. For the current week ended March 18, prices rose in PADDs 1 and 4, while falling in PADDs 2, 3, and 5. The national average price was 9.8 cents/gallon above its level of last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices edged up slightly by 0.1 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.124/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 1.7 cents to average $3.20/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices decreased by 0.2 cents to average $3.315/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices were unchanged at an average price of $2.981/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 11.5 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices fell by 1.9 cents to average $2.992/gallon. This was the largest price drop among the PADDs, and it brought prices back below the $3/gallon threshold. Prices were 9.4 cents/gallon above their level for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices fell by 1.2 cents to average $2.869/gallon. PADD 3 typically has the lowest diesel prices, and it was the first PADD where retail diesel prices fell below the $3/gallon mark. Prices were 8.3 cents higher than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 0.5 cents to reach an average of $2.944/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 1.9 cents higher than in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices fell by 0.8 cents to average $3.497/gallon. This price was 11.3 cents above its level from last year. Prices excluding California fell by 2.3 cents to reach an average of $3.139/gallon. This price was 7.9 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices increased by 0.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.781/gallon. California diesel prices were 14.0 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose significantly by 7.7 cents to average $2.548/gallon during the week ended March 18th. Prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price was 5.0 cents per gallon lower than it was one year ago. Gasoline prices are 35.5 cents/gallon below the peak price hit in early October.
For the current week ended March 18, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose strongly by 8.8 cents to average $2.518/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. The average price was 1.8 cents below last year’s price. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 5.6 cents to average $2.480/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 7.8 cents to average $2.624/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market jumped by 10.2 cents to average $2.460/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices increased by 7.5 cents to reach an average price of $2.475/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 2.0 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices rose significantly by 8.4 cents to average $2.301/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. Prices for the week were 0.3 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices increased by 6.8 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.321/gallon. This week’s prices were 12.2 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices increased by 4.9 cents to arrive at an average of $3.027/gallon. Eight weeks ago, PADD 5 joined the rest of the PADDs in having gasoline prices fall below the $3/gallon level, and PADD 5 is now the first PADD where prices exceed the $3/gallon mark. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. Excluding California, West Coast prices rose by 6.0 cents to average $2.742/gallon. This price was 10.0 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices rose by 4.1 cents to average $3.264/gallon. California prices are now 16.7 cents per gallon below their levels from the same week last year.