Today’s Department of Energy report indicates a less gasoline around than expected, so the futures prices are up today, to $1.92. That corresponds to a new 20-cent margin price (with 8-cent Midwestern Premium) of $2.74. Given Speedway’s recent pricing behavior, I think we see another price hike Thursday or Friday. On Thursday, prices rose to $2.75, so the prediction was pretty much CORRECT.
Month: March 2006
15 minutes ago, I updated my spreadsheets then took a look at early trading on NYMEX. Oil and gas prices there are up this morning, but was it enough for a price hike soon, I wondered. Then I went to grandrapidsgasprices.com, and someone posted that Speedway is switching over to $2.65. I checked the Speedway web site, and, yes, $2.65 it is. So, you can’t predict a price hike that is already happening. I still think we get a break in April, based on history, but this hurts right now.
With the futures prices bouncing up 7 cents today to $1.80, that puts the 0-cent margin price at $2.32 and the 20-cent margin price at $2.53. Tack on several more cents to reflect the recent difference between Chicago and New York prices, and we are looking at a price hike to $2.59 or more on Friday. $2.59 on Friday = CORRECT.
I was contacted by WZZM-13 last late week regarding gas prices, and some of you saw me on the news on Sunday. In preparing for the interview, I did a review of what has happened the past five years in March, and a pattern emerged. In four of the five years, we had a ramp up in prices starting in mid-February, and lasting to about the end of March. I think this has to do with refining capacity dropping this time of year due to maintenance. This year, the switchover to gas without MTBE is another factor which has caused all the price hikes. So, starting around 02/15/07, I’ll be the price-hike predictor for a month.Though the futures are off 3 cents this morning, that price hike to $2.65 last week has disappeared in many places, so we could easily get a price hike to $2.69 by Wednesday. Consider that a prediction. I’ll also predict that, unless we get some unforseen natural disaster or war, prices will be lower in April and May. I got sucked into the multiple price hike hysteria; the prediction of a Wednesday hike was WRONG.
Another price hike to $2.59? What is going on here? I’ve been laying low this month because I am having trouble figuring this out. The weekly report that the DOE publishes on gas prices (tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip_gasoline.html) does indicate that wholesale and retail prices in the Midwest are running at least 10 cents higher than for New York, and that explains the “Chicago Premium” we are paying right now. Also, frequent price hikes like we have seen lately occurs when wholesale prices are rising sharply. In the past, Speedway et. al. haven’t let retail prices drop to the 0-cent margin price when frequent wholesale prices occur.The question is why are Midwest prices so high right now? My Gas Buddy pdhaudio says the (Midwest?) refineries are slowing down production. Let’s keep an eye on this, and let’s worry, because NYMEX is up 9 cents today, as of this writing! There was another price hike on Thursday the 16th to $2.65. It was not enthusiastically embraced by all retailers, though.
The price hike on Tuesday still doesn’t make sense to me, but since the end of the day Monday, wholesale prices via NYMEX are up 18 cents. Suddenly, the 0-cent margin price is $2.23, and prices in the $2.40’s don’t seem crazy. The trouble is that we usually get a big price hike after a ramp in wholesale prices, not before. I’m starting to worry, but not enough to make a prediction. One other thing: the last two years, there has actually been a “Chicago discount” in March versus the NYMEX prices. Where is it this year?