Oil Dips Below $70 Then Rallies

The price of a barrel of crude oil dropped below $70 yesterday afternoon in intra-day trading for the first time since late February thanks to continued concerns over both the European debt crisis and weaker than expected demand.

However, as the U.S. stock markets rallied to end the session in positive territory, the price of oil finished slightly over $70 per barrel.  In trading this morning, the price of oil has climbed to $71.64 per barrel.

Despite this morning’s small rally, the price of oil has fallen significantly over the last two weeks after hitting a nearly two-year high of $87.15 per barrel on May 3.

The corresponding response from gasoline prices has been relatively muted, with prices falling from $2.94 per gallon on May 5, to this morning’s price of $2.87 per gallon.  However, since we are nearing the start of the busy summer driving season, I suppose this makes sense.

Currently there are nine states reporting an average gasoline price above $3 per gallon, with Alaska reporting the highest price at $3.59 per gallon.  Oklahoma has the lowest state-wide average price at $2.65 per gallon.

3 Reasons Gasoline is Going to $5 a Gallon

One of the benefits of The Great Recession has been a respite from high gas prices.  Unfortunately, I think this break will be over very soon and that record high gasoline prices are just around the corner.

Back in July of 2008, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline hit a record high of $4.12 per gallon.  Within six months, the bottom had fallen out of the economy and the average price of gasoline had dropped to $1.60 per gallon.

Gas PricesThanks to drastic coordinated measures by the world’s central banks and governments, a total economic collapse was avoided, an economic rebound started to take hold, and gasoline prices climbed back to the $2.60 range.

While avoiding a total “end of the world as we know it” scenario was certainly something that had to be done, the money printing measures may have set us up to face much higher gasoline prices in the near-term future.

Below are the three main reasons why I believe not only will we break the record high prices set back in July 2008, but we can expect to start paying $5 or more for gasoline.

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Price of Gas Back Above $2

The average price of gasoline has climbed above the $2 mark yesterday, marking the first time since mid November 2008 that gas prices have been so “high.”  Since the the first of the year the price of gasoline has risen 25%, or roughly 40 cents per gallon, and chances are pretty good prices will continue a gradual climb through the summer months.

Currently 27 states and Washington, D.C. are reporting an average gas price above $2 per gallon, with Hawaii being the most expensive at $2.50.  Utah currently has the lowest state-wide average price at $1.79 per gallon.

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Worried About $4 Gas in 2009? You’re Not Alone

The stock market is cratering, home prices show no sign of bottoming and unemployment may very well hit 10% or higher this year.

In the past six months, essentially an entire decade of “created wealth” has been erased.  Surely things can’t get much worse this year, right?

Apparently they can, says a recent poll on Daily Fuel Economy Tip.  According to a survey of nearly 300 people, nearly half expect $4 gasoline to return during 2009.

The poll asked “When do you think gas will return to $4/gallon?”  Here’s how the responses broke out:

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Oil Demand Down .25%, Price Down 56%. That’s Odd.

Without a doubt, 2008 was a crazy year for oil and gasoline prices.  Not only did both oil and gasoline hit record high prices — $147 per barrel and $4.12 per gallon, respectively — but both also managed to fall to five year lows.

When looking at the year in total, from January 1 to December 31, the price of oil fell from roughly $100 per barrel to roughly $44 per barrel, or about 56 percent.

Obviously, it is pretty abnormal that one of the world’s most valuable natural resources would lose over half of its market value.  The only real and logical explanation behind the drop in price would be an equally dramatic decrease in world wide demand, right?

Well, in this case, wrong.

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Gas Prices Spike, Sign of Things to Come?

Over the past five days, the national average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has climbed more than 11 cents, to just over $1.75 per gallon.  The last time the price of gas was this “expensive” was back on December 3.

Although, compared to last summer, I think most of us are willing to live with this relatively mundane price increase.

Most, if not all of the jump in gas prices can be contributed to the fact that the price of oil had climbed from the low $30s just a few weeks ago, to yesterday’s closing price of just under $50 per barrel.

However, today the price of oil fell over 12% to under $43 per barrel thanks to a government report showed a larger than expected increase in crude inventories.

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Buying More Fuel Thanks to Lower Prices? Probably Not

Remember last spring and summer, when the price of gasoline seemed to hit a new record high with each passing day?  We were worried gas was soon going to become too expensive for us to commute to and from work, and we would have to choose between filling up our tanks or filling up our stomachs.

In an effort to help keep our budgets balanced, many of us cut back on our discretionary driving, only filled up our tanks half way, used public transportation more, and even gave up our our cars and trucks for bicycles and walking shoes.

Seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?

Since hitting a record high of $4.12 per gallon back in mid-July, the price of gasoline has fallen nearly 60%, and now stands at $1.68 per gallon.  The last time the price of gasoline was this low was back in April 2004.

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Where Will Gas Prices Bottom Out?

Over the past four months, we’ve seen an unprecedented decline in the price of gasoline.  After hitting its record high of $4.12 on July 14, the national average price of gas has fallen over 40%, and now stands at $2.40 per gallon.

The last time gas prices were this low was back in March of 2007 – or roughly 20 months ago!

With these being pretty tough economic times, this recent decline in prices is certainly welcomed by many Americans.  That being said, I think I speak for many of us when I say that I certainly wouldn’t mind gas prices dropping a little bit further.

This of course begs the question, where are gas prices going from here?  Are we going to end up with sub-$2 gas for the first time in four years, or have prices finally bottomed out at the current levels?

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Gas Prices Lower Than They Were a Year Ago

For the first time in what feels like forever, the price of gasoline is less expensive than it was exactly a year ago.

While this would usually be reason for joy, it appears that the major factor behind the significant decline in the prices of oil and gasoline is the rapidly deteriorating world economy.

Today’s national average price of gas stands at $2.73 per gallon, which is three cents below where it was exactly 12 months ago.  While $2.73 for a gallon of gas certainly isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, it’s certainly a heck of a lot more affordable than what we dealt with for most of this year.

Since hitting a record high of $4.12 per gallon on July 14, the price of gas has fallen by over 33%.  Over the past month alone the price of gas has fallen nearly 25% – thanks to the credit crisis and fears of a very deep and painful recession.

Currently, there are only five states reporting an average gas price above $3 per gallon, with Alaska having the highest state wide average price at $3.60 per gallon.  Conversely, there are now ten states reporting an average gas price below $2.50 per gallon, with Oklahoma having the lowest state wide average price at $2.27.

In an effort to help stem the tide of falling oil prices – which are down nearly 60% from this summer’s record highs – OPEC has announced that it will cut crude oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day.  However, because this cut was less than the expected 2 million barrel per day cut, the price of oil fell about $3 per barrel after the announcement.

This likely means gas prices will continue to fall in the near term.  While this is good news for anyone with a car – additionally, this will effectively kill inflationary pressures – the trade off is we’re having to deal with the worst economy in decades.

Unfortunately, it looks like things are going to get a lot worse – higher unemployment, further declines in stock and home prices, and sinking corporate profits – before they start to get any better.

Just So You Know, We Are Running Out of Time

Here we go again.

Thanks to uncertainty regarding the proposed U.S. Government bailout of the financial sector (which, by the way, is looking more like a band-aid on a bullet wound), the dollar having its single worst day against the euro and other currencies, and commodity traders covering their short sales, the price of crude oil climbed over $16 per barrel today – the single largest daily price increase on record.

And it could have been worse.  At today’s peak, the price of oil was up over $25 from Friday’s closing price.

While this may end up being a one day phenomenon, the fact remains oil is still very much in a bull market, and what we thought was the commodity bubble popping might have been nothing more than slight correction during an extended upward trend.

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