Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Corner station retreats after two Tuesdays in No Man's Land

It looks like my gas price updates will be on Wednesdays instead of Fridays or Saturdays this year, as I once again passed though my old neighborhood on a Tuesday.  That's a new habit for the new year.

Prices seem to have stabilized since I posted Gas rises as oil stalls.  Last week, the corner station was still much more expensive than the rest.
When I returned to my old neighborhood yesterday, the three stations down the street were all selling regular for $2.15, while it seems the corner station was again camped out in No Man's Land at $2.39.
The week before, the situation was even more unsettled.
The corner station was selling regular for $2.35, while two of the stations down the street were still at $1.89 and one had raised its price to $2.29.
Yesterday, all the stations were selling regular at $2.15, including the one at the corner.  It's so boring it's remarkable.

I made another observation based on what I saw at GasBuddy.
That written, all the stations in my old neighborhood appear to be overpriced, the corner station especially so.  The Detroit average is $2.21, so the stations could be as low as $2.11 based on their price history of selling regular a dime below that.  I guess they're making up for being way underpriced last week as well as anticipating price rises in the near future.  If such happens, they would like be the result of seasonal factors as both the Detroit and national averages have risen from $2.17 to $2.21 this week, not increases in the price of oil.
The stations apparently were anticipating future price increases--or were just lucky--and are now exactly where they should be as the Detroit average is now $2.15.  Again, so boring as to be worth noting.

I have one last item to dispense with.
Last week, WTI hit a high of $53.05, while Brent peaked even higher at $57.91.  Both futures fell the next day, WTI to below $50 and Brent below $55.  Both climbed, but either failed to match the previous high (WTI) or just barely exceeded it (Brent) before falling again yesterday.  At the close, WTI was at $50.02 while Brent was at $56.43.  It's time to see if the prices consolidate in the $50-$55 and $55-$60 price bands before rising again.
That's exactly what happened, as Oil-Price.Net shows that prices for both futures did exactly that last week.  I observed as much in response to Kunstler in Welcome to World War Three on Monday.
Kunstler: Partly what you’re seeing over there is an internal fight to control what’s left of the treasure. That battle has already had the strange consequence of disabling the oil production capacity in places like Iraq and Libya, where there is still a lot of oil, but not enough political stability to allow the complicated business of extraction and transport to take place.

Me: Unlike 2011, when the Arab Spring caused oil prices to shoot up over $100/barrel for the first time since the Great Recession began, the current instability hasn't done much.  In fact, the story seems to be gas rises as oil stalls.  I just checked and oil has been bumping up against ceilings below $55 for WTI and $60 for Brent.  So far, the markets seem unconcerned, although you may be right that they should be.
Right after that, both futures broke through the ceilings I listed, with WTI closing at $53.53 Tuesday along with Brent at $62.53.  Expect gas to resume rising because of higher oil prices and other factors as described by Headline News (HLN) on YouTube, which answers its own question, What's driving up those low gas prices?

It seems like just yesterday that gas prices were under $2 a gallon nationwide. But lately they've been slowly edging up. The question is why, and how much higher will they go. CNN Money's Cristina Alesci broke it all down for us.
Yep, higher oil prices, seasonal factors, and a strike, which might depress oil prices while driving up gas and diesel.

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