Category: Commentary

Strike Fast! Strike Hard!

Comment on the January 31 prediction: They held out to Monday, and then prices rose to $2.39. CORRECT!

Sunday, February 24, 2019, 1PM: I’ve been reading a scifi novel this month called Hellhole, which features an evil empire whose fight song is “Strike Fast! Strike Hard!” Feels like this has been the motto of gasoline retailers this month, raising prices twice in surprising fashion, given the margin calculations. I’m starting to think that Big Red is trying to stretch profit margins, which it attempts once or twice a year to do, usually without any permanent damage. For the last two hikes, prices were about a nickle ahead of the 0-cent margin price I calculate, rather than right at it where hikes usually occur. They are about a dime away today, so by Tuesday we should be back in price-hike territory, and I will fill up. Also, don’t forget that Jan-April is usually a festival of hikes, after prices bottom out in December. We are right on form this year. -EA

Too Cold To Hike Prices? No.

Comment on Monday’s prediction: Kind of hard to raise prices in the Midwest, when no one is driving and buying gas. But tomorrow is Friday …

Thursday, January 31, 2019, 7PM: I’ve been watching oil prices rally all week, and then Midwestern wholesale gas prices, now Valero stock has gotten into the act, up a lot this week. Meanwhile, prices have dipped below $2 in a number of places, well below the 0-cent margin price. I recommend filling up Friday morning, predicting a price hike on Friday or Saturday (or best case Monday), in the neighborhood of $2.39. -EA

Blizzard Will Keep Prices Stable

Comment on the December 29 posting and most of January: We had hikes in Michigan on January 2, 9, and 22, each one a bit higher than before. So, the posting was basically CORRECT.

Monday, January 28, 2019, 11AM: A very snowy Monday in West Michigan, and I have a chance to get caught up on my Gas Game analysis after a brief hiatus. Since the first of the year, energy prices have rallied, following the stock market, and I expect these two will continue in tandem. This morning, for instance, both stocks and oil are down. My estimate of the 0-cent margin price this morning is $2.05, and in most places we are well above that, which suggests retail prices will continue to fall slowly. However, we have a gas war on W River Drive in Comstock Park. $1.86?! I’m going to consider that a weird outlier and stick with a prediction of no hike this week, except maybe in Comstock Park. -EA

A Remarkable Fourth Quarter For Energy

Comment on the December 17 posting: CORRECT that prices kept sliding, down in the $1.80’s in certain parts of west Michigan.

Saturday, December 29, 2018, 4:00PM: Let’s be clear about what has happened this fall. On October 1, oil was $75 a barrel and today it is $45. This has led to retail gas prices moving from over $3 a gallon to under $2. This is remarkable! Looking at the new year, because retail prices are all over the place, and we’ve seen a slight rebound in wholesale prices, I suspect Speedway and friends will do a system-wide reset, but we’re only talking something like $2.19 or $2.29. Then, if seasonal trends hold, prices should start moving higher during the first half of 2019 … but I wouldn’t count on it. Happy New Year, everyone! -EA

Recession Coming, or Just Boredom

Comment on the November 25 posting: The reset came on December 4, to $2.39, as we didn’t have any upside in energy until then.

Monday, December 17, Noon: There has been a lack of drama in the energy markets this month, and hence a lack of posting to this site. Today, oil is back to $50 a barrel, which has served as support lately. Short term, it is hard to make a case for a price reset, and we’ll probably see $1.999 again somewhere in western Michigan this week. Longer term, December has been the time of year where prices bottom out, due to more supply and less demand, so, we should probably see higher prices in January. On the other hand, 20+% collapse of oil prices this fall, and the weak stock market, are signs that a recession is starting, which would continue to keep gas prices down. But, you know what they say: “The old joke is that the stock market has predicted 9 out of the last 5 recessions.” -EA

Early Christmas Present: Gas Less Than $2!

Comment on the November 18 posting: In the comment section, Jim Kaplan wrote, “At least in Chicagoland, hikes in the 3 days before Thanksgiving are very unusual. I’m not sure I recall one.” He was correct, and I was WRONG.

Sunday, November 25, 2018, 7:00PM: Oil and wholesale gasoline prices got roasted on Friday, and that’s why you see $2.00 a gallon in northwest Kent County (Michigan). Let’s enjoy it while it lasts, but before that latest sell-off, we were in price hike territory, so any reversal to the upside in the energy markets, and I think Big Red will try to reset into the $2.30’s. Until that happens, seek out $1.999. -EA (c) 2017 Frontier Theme