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 4, 2019. Prices for both fuels rose in all PADDs countrywide for the second week in a row. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose by 3.2 cents/gallon, and diesel prices rose by 2.8 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. However, during the week ended March 1, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices fell by $1.37/b (2.5%.) Gasoline futures prices jumped by 13.32 cents/gallon (8.6%,) as futures contracts shifted to the next forward month. If gasoline prices are adjusted backwards to compensate, prices fell by 1.99 cents/gallon (1.2%.) Diesel futures prices declined by 2.72 cents/gallon (1.4%.) 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 moderated by the current retreat in the futures markets.
For the current week ended March 4, retail diesel prices rose by 2.8 cents to reach an average price of $3.076/gallon. Two 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 4, prices rose in all PADDs, and the national average price was 8.4 cents/gallon above its level of last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices rose by 2.5 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.119/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 0.6 cents to average $3.177/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices increased by 1.5 cents to average $3.301/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices rose by 3.6 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.985/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 7.3 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices rose by 4.5 cents to average $3.014/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. Prices were 9.4 cents/gallon above their level for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices rose by 2.1 cents to average $2.870/gallon. Thirteen 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. Prices were 7.7 cents higher than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 2.6 cents to average $2.939/gallon. PADD 4 was the last PADD where retail prices had remained lower than last year’s levels. The upward price trend changed this during the current week, and PADD 4 prices were 2.9 cents higher than in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose by 1.0 cent to reach an average of $3.503/gallon. This price was 11.1 cents above its level from last year. Prices excluding California increased by 1.4 cents to reach an average of $3.155/gallon. This price was 9.1 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices rose more modestly by 0.7 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.779/gallon. California diesel prices were 12.7 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 3.2 cents to average $2.422/gallon during the week ended March 4. Prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price was 13.8 cents per gallon lower than it was one year ago. Gasoline retail prices have been creeping back up, but overall, prices remain low, and they are below their levels of last year. Gasoline prices are 48.1 cents/gallon below the peak price hit in early October.
For the current week ended March 4th, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose by 3.6 cents to average $2.385/gallon. The average price was 14.9 cents below last year’s price. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 1.5 cents to average $2.389/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 1.4 cents to average $2.491/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market rose by 5.6 cents to average $2.318/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 2.3 cents to reach an average price of $2.329/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 9.9 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices rose by 6.8 cents to average $2.181/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. Prices for the week were 9.7 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices increased by 1.9 cents to arrive at an average of $2.212/gallon. This week’s prices were 22.5 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices increased by 1.1 cents to arrive at an average of $2.945/gallon. Six 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 rose by 1.1 cents to average $2.644/gallon. This price was 12.6 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices rose by 1.1 cents to average $3.195/gallon. California prices are now 16.1 cents per gallon below their levels from the same week last year.