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 May 6, 2019. The upward price trend is slowing. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose by 1.0 cent/gallon. Retail diesel prices edged up by 0.2 cents/gallon. National average prices for gasoline are 5.2 cents/gallon above where they were in the same week one year ago. National average prices for diesel were precisely as they were in the same week last year.
During the week ended May 5, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices fell by $1.01/b (1.6%.) Gasoline futures prices decreased by 7.0 cents/gallon (3.4%.) Diesel futures prices rose by 2.7 cents/gallon (1.3%.) 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 and diesel retail prices will ease moderately in the coming week.
For the current week ended May 6th, retail diesel prices rose slightly by 0.2 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.171/gallon. 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. From February through April, diesel prices have crept back up by 20.4 cents/gallon. For the current week ended May 6th, diesel prices fell in PADDs 1 and 3 while rising in PADDs 2, 4 and 5. The national average price was exactly the same as it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices declined by 0.4 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.190/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 0.9 cents to average $3.245/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices fell by 0.6 cents to average $3.379/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices also fell by 0.6 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.051/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 1.2 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices rose by 0.6 cents to average $3.064/gallon. Prices were 2.8 cents/gallon below their level for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices fell by 1.2 cents to average $2.927/gallon. PADD 3 typically has the lowest diesel prices, and it is the only PADD where retail diesel prices are still below the $3/gallon mark. Prices were 2.8 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 0.3 cents to reach an average of $3.186/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 6.3 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose by 3.5 cents to average $3.765/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. PADD 5 prices were 10.3 cents above their level from last year. Prices excluding California eased slightly by 0.1 cents to arrive at an average of $3.345/gallon. This price was 6.4 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices rose by 6.2 cents to arrive at an average price of $4.097/gallon. California is the only market for which prices have risen above $4/gallon, and prices have been above $4/gallon for the past three weeks. California diesel prices are 23.4 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 1.0 cent to average $2.897/gallon during the week ended May 6. Prices rose in all PADDs except for PADD 3. Until four weeks ago, the national average price had been below last year’s levels. Retail prices for the current week are 5.2 cents per gallon higher than they were one year ago. Gasoline prices hit a peak of $2.903/gallon during the week ended October 8, 2018. Prices then slid downward for 14 weeks in a row, shedding a total of 66.6 cents per gallon. In the 17 weeks since then, prices have marched back up by 66.0 cents/gallon. Thus, prices now are within 0.6 cents of the peak they hit in early October.
Gasoline prices have been volatile in many local markets. The upward trend began with increasing crude oil prices. Localized price hikes have been accentuated by the switch to summer grades, refinery issues, and flooding in the Midwest, which has disrupted ethanol supply and transportation. The current weakening of crude prices should slow the upward trend of gasoline prices.
For the current week ended May 6th, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose by 1.2 cents to average $2.792/gallon. The average price was the same as it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 3.6 cents to average $2.86/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices eased by 0.3 cents to average $2.929/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market increased by 1.5 cents to average $2.690/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 0.2 cents to reach an average price of $2.767/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 7.0 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices fell by 2.5 cents to average $2.557/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. Prices for the week were 3.2 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices jumped by 7.6 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.919/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. Prices have been rising rapidly in PADD 4, and last week brought them above last year’s levels. This week’s prices were 9.8 cents higher than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 3.6 cents to arrive at an average of $3.707/gallon. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. Excluding California, West Coast prices rose by 5.1 cents to average $3.346/gallon. This price was 17.3 cents higher than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices rose by 2.4 cents to average $4.006/gallon. California average surpassed the $4/gallon mark this week. California prices are now 37.4 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year.