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 25, 2019. Gasoline prices rose in all PADDs countrywide for the fifth week in a row. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose significantly by 7.5 cents/gallon. Retail diesel prices rose by a more modest 1.0 cent/gallon. National average prices for gasoline remain slightly below their levels from one year ago. Diesel prices are higher than they were at the same time last year. Prices may vary significantly in subregions because of severe winter weather in many parts of the country and extensive flooding in the Midwest.
During the week ended March 22nd, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices rose by $0.59/b (1.0%.) Gasoline futures prices rose significantly by 7.24 cents/gallon (3.9%.) Diesel futures prices declined fractionally by 0.04 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 continue to rise in the coming week, but that diesel price increases may be modest.
For the current week ended March 25, retail diesel prices rose by 1.0 cent to arrive at an average price of $3.080/gallon. Five weeks ago, the national average retail price rose back above the $3/gallon level. 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. Diesel prices rose in February, but they have been moving up and down in March, staying flattish overall. For the current week ended March 25th, diesel prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price was 7.0 cents/gallon above its level of last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices rose by 0.8 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.132/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 1.4 cents to average $3.214/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices decreased by 0.3 cents to average $3.310/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices rose by 1.4 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $2.995/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 9.4 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices edged up by 0.1 cents to average $2.993/gallon. Prices were 5.9 cents/gallon above their level for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices rose by 0.7 cents to average $2.876/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 5.3 cents higher than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 3.0 cents to reach an average of $2.974/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 1.7 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose by 2.9 cents to average $3.526/gallon. This price was 8.8 cents above its level from last year. Prices excluding California rose by 1.7 cents to reach an average of $3.156/gallon. This price was 0.9 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices increased by 3.8 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.819/gallon. California diesel prices were 15.0 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose significantly by 7.5 cents to average $2.623/gallon during the week ended March 25. Prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price was 2.5 cents per gallon lower than it was one year ago. Gasoline prices are 28.0 cents/gallon below the peak price hit in early October.
For the current week ended March 25, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose by 4.9 cents to average $2.567/gallon. The average price was 2.5 cents below last year’s price. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 5.8 cents to average $2.538/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 5.3 cents to average $2.677/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market increased by 4.5 cents to average $2.505/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices jumped by 8.7 cents to reach an average price of $2.562/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 4.7 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices rose significantly by 7.8 cents to average $2.379/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. Prices for the week were 0.2 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices rose by 7.9 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.400/gallon. This week’s prices were 12.8 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices soared by 11.7 cents to arrive at an average of $3.144/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. Nine weeks ago, PADD 5 joined the rest of the PADDs in having gasoline prices fall below the $3/gallon level, but PADD 5 prices rose above the $3/gallon level again last week. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. Excluding California, West Coast prices rose by 10.7 cents to average $2.849/gallon. This price was 5.7 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices jumped by 12.5 cents to average $3.389/gallon. California prices are now 9.8 cents per gallon below their levels from the same week last year.