Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gas stabilizes as oil bounces around

I drove through my old neighborhood the day before yesterday, so it's time for a gas price update.  Last week's subject line read Gas and oil move up, but still relatively low.
The corner station had dropped its price, but only five cents to $2.44 for regular.  Meanwhile, the three stations down the street raised theirs to $2.39 for regular.  According to GasBuddy, these prices are just a touch higher than usual for the neighborhood, as they were only three cents below the Detroit average of $2.42 instead of a dime lower.  Prices may or may not drop, but they shouldn't increase over the next week unless oil moves up sharply.
They didn't increase.  In fact, the corner station lowered its price to $2.39, matching the rest of the neighborhood outlets.  That written, all of them are priced too high, as GasBuddy shows the Detroit average at $2.36.  Based on historical patterns, the stations should be a dime lower than that at $2.26.  That would be an odd price, so I expect $2.29, a dime less than their current price within the week as long as there is no jump in local average prices.

What about oil?  Last week, there was some movement up.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed up today $1.70 to $49.21, while Brent jumped up $1.37 to $56.48.  That's five dollars higher than last week but still nowhere near as high as they were this time last week.
OilPrice.Net shows a little movement up over the past week, but the price has generally been bouncing around.  Yesterday, WTI rose $2.49 to close at $50.09, while Brent increased $1.99 to end trading at $57.10.  That wasn't enough to push gas up at the pump.  Quite to the contrary, average retail prices have declined over the past week.  In addition to Detroit falling from $2.42 to $2.36, the U.S. average declined from $2.43 to $2.41 and the Michigan average sank from $2.52 on March 23rd to $2.33 yesterday.

Finally, it's time to revisit the predictions I repeated last week.
I'll repeat what I wrote last month week: "As long as oil stays at these levels, Detroit and Michigan averages over $2.50 by the end of the month seem unlikely."
Instead, a different prediction looks more likely, one I made in December: "Expect prices at the pump to remain below $3.00 until at least March, if not later."  That one is almost a lock.
Michigan barely had average prices over $2.50 for a grand total of two days, then fell; Detroit's average never made it there.  On the other hand, prices are still below $3.00.  No April Fools there.

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