Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Early Increase in Gasoline Prices

Gasoline prices have been inching up since Christmas, and this is not just the usual January–June increase in petroleum prices. That seasonal increase shouldn’t be hitting yet because of the mild winter weather in the northern cities, leading to an unusually low demand for oil for heat. And, the increase from the December low to now is almost large enough to cover the normal seasonal fluctuations in prices, and it is only February.

It is mainly supply concerns pushing oil prices higher. With Iran threatening to close the Persian Gulf to shipping, its ally Syria on the verge of governmental collapse, and political turmoil in nearby countries of the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, it is easy to imagine events that could disrupt the flow of oil.

Hints of an improvement in the U.S. labor market may also be helping to increase prices . If the number of people driving to work is increasing, the need for motor fuel is also increasing.