The season of Gasoline prices & Crude oil stocks update –Dec 23

The Seasonality of Gasoline Prices revised

According to the recent EIA report, they analyze the retail gasoline prices in the U.S. and they show that for the last several years there was a consistent trend, in which retail gasoline prices fell between Labor Day and mid December by an average 22 cents on a gallon.

In 2010, however, retail gasoline prices rose for the period in question by 30 cents/g.

This unusual shift in the trend is suspected to be due to increase world demand, including from non-OCED countries, combined with tightening if U.S. supply for that period.

I think the later is due to the maintenance repairs in major refineries in the Northeast and Canada along with the labor dispute in France which also shut down for a while major refineries. Furthermore, this hypothesis is back by supporting data that Finished Motor Gasoline reached a few weeks back the lowest inventories levels ever. This could suggest the level of pressure that was on the supply.

As a result, the gasoline margins rose for the period between Labor Day and mid December in 2010 by nearly 10%, while this margin usually declined for this period during 2004-2009 (ex. 2008).

Crude oil stocks of the passing week:

This week, crude oil stocks fell moderately by 0.3%, which is a drop of over 6 million barrels of crude oil. This ongoing decline was expected as there is a high demand for energy throughout the US mainly for heating purposes.

According to this week’s EIA report, the ongoing rise in energy consumption is reflected by the incline of heating oil price by 0.02 USD/g, reaching an average of 3.26 USD/g,; this price is 0.51 USD/g higher then last year’s price.

After several weeks of finished motor gasoline stocks showing a downward trend, last week there was a moderate rise as the stocks rose by 1.5% and 1 million barrels reaching 70.2 million barrels, which is still, however, a very low count.

The stocks of total gasoline also rose by 1.1% which is 2.4 million barrels, and reaching 217.2 million barrels.

The US average retail gasoline price had a moderate rise of less than a penny, remaining on 2.98 USD/g, which is 0.39 USD/g higher than last year for the same period.

Propane: the ongoing cold weather in the U.S. is one of the main reasons for the continuous rise in propane consumption; as a result, the propane stocks fell dramatically by 3.5 million barrels which is a 5.7% decline – the sharpest decline in this season, reaching 57.6 million barrels – the lowest level since July 2010. The Midwest region was responsible for most of the inventory depletion this week, as it drew 2.1 million barrels.    

TX propane spot prices shot up last week by 0.045 USD/g reaching 1.302 USD/g, which is a 3.5% rise; it’s also an increase of 0.16 USD/g compares to last year’s price over the same period.


Here is an update on the prices of main energy and precious metals commodities for December 23rd (all times GMT):


The Nymex crude oil price, short term futures (February 2011 delivery), on the New York Mercantile Exchange, is traded at 90.91 USD / barrel, which is a 0.43 USD/b increase or a 0.48% rise, as of 16.15 PM.

The dated brent spot crude oil price is at 93.89 USD / barrel – a 0.42 USD/ barrel increase as of 16.25PM.

The WTI spot price is trading at 88.15 USD/ barrel, a moderate rise of 0.12% compare to the previous business day’s rate, as of 14.13PM.

Nymex Henry Hub Future (natural gas ) is traded at 4.09 USD/ MMBTU (one million BTU), a decrease of 0.06 USD/ MMBTU, or -1.47%, as of 16.14 PM. The Nymex Henry Hub Future shows this zigzag behavior with one day it rises and other day it falls, however so far for the month of December the price trend is downward as it began the month at 4.27 USD/ MMBTU. As of today the current rate represents a 4% decline.

Precious Metals

Gold price, short term February delivery future, after yesterday moderate slow down, which was after it rose at the beginning of the week, is traded at 1,378 USD /t. oz., a moderate 0.65% decrease or 9 USD /t. oz. at 16.09 PM.

Silver price, much like gold, is also falling, and as of 16.09 PM is traded at 29.26 $/t oz. a 0.43% decrease or 0.125 $/t oz.

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