Analysis by Dr. Nancy Yamaguchi


The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released data on gasoline and diesel retail prices for the week ended April 17. Prices rose for both fuels at the national level. Gasoline retail prices rose by 1.2 cents/gallon, and diesel prices rose by 1.5 cents/gallon. This was the third week in a row that prices at the pump rose for both key fuels.


Oil prices strengthened modestly on Monday when an industry survey predicted across-the-board draws on crude, gasoline and diesel inventories, of 1.5 million barrels (MMbbls), 1.9 MMbbls and 1.0 MMbbls respectively. The American Petroleum Institute (API) numbers yesterday reportedly fell short of this expectation, indicating a crude stock draw of only 0.8 MMbbls, plus a gasoline stock build of 1.4 MMbbls instead of a draw. Diesel stocks were seen falling 1.8 MMbbls. Gasoline prices were weighed down by the prospect of a build. The EIA will release official data later today.


Potential downward movement in oil prices has been moderated in part by a weaker U.S. Dollar. The Dollar Index has opened lower in five of the last six trading sessions. U.S. economic data showed a slowing of the reflationary trend, and softness in the housing market. Analysts believe there is less than a 50% likelihood of another interest rate being made during the Fed meeting in June.


On the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices remain in the $52.00 – $52.50 per barrel (/b) range this morning. Yesterday brought some choppy up-and-down price cycles, but the price range stayed around $52.20/b – $52.60/b. WTI opened at $52.36/b today, a decrease of 39 cents below yesterday’s opening price. Current prices are $52.37/b, 4 cents below Tuesday’s close. Product prices have shown some volatility, but they have trended down.


Diesel opened at $1.6219/gallon in today’s session. This was a decrease of 1.24 cents (0.76%) below Tuesday’s opening price. Current prices are $1.6203/gallon, down by 0.16 cents from yesterday’s closing price.


Gasoline opened at $1.7016/gallon today, a significant drop of 2.13 cents, or 1.24%, from yesterday’s opening. Prices are $1.7011/gallon currently, down by 0.99 cents from yesterday’s close.