Gasoline On the Rise Again

Crude, ethanol pricing lead the way, Lundberg says

Published in CSP Daily News

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- After crashing about 25 cents per gallon in the month between Sept. 9 and Oct. 7, the U.S. average retail price of regular grade gasoline turned upward in the past two weeks: 4.42 cents per gallon to $3.4671, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey ( www.lundbergsurvey.com) of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.

The turnaround came mostly from crude, as common benchmark WTI near-month increased $4.42 bbl. during the same two weeks caused in part by the weaker U.S. dollar, and also from ethanol whose prices have surged of late.

Refiner margin on gasoline skinnied, as refiners failed to pass through the crude hike, while retail gasoline margin expanded to a healthier width.

Refiners, exporting refined product aggressively and engaging in seasonal turnaround, maintenance and repairs, are at a lower capacity utilization. No threat to gasoline supply though, as stocks remain quite flush and gasoline demand continues to dwindle. This equates to a drag on gasoline price, so that even if crude-oil prices rise further from here, gasoline prices will likely lag that rise.

Only an improvement in overall U.S. employment will give demand the green light to stop shrinking and begin growing again.

Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries.

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