Comment on the November 11 posting: Further retail drops, as predicted. CORRECT.
Sunday, November 18, 2018, 5:00PM: In the past week, oil prices fell nearly 10%, wholesale gas prices not so much, but retail prices keep trying to find a floor. This evening, a gallon of gas is $2.16 on Alpine Avenue, northwest of Grand Rapids, which sits below what I calculate as the 0-margin price: $2.29. Because retail prices are all over the place (as high as $2.51 elsewhere in GR), I would not be surprised if Big Red and others decide on a pre-holiday price hike this week, to reset everything to $2.49, which is still wonderfully less than the over $3 prices we saw at the beginning of October. Best strategy is to fill up on Alpine on Monday. -EA
Comment on the October 28 posting: No hike since then, so “no rush to fill up” was CORRECT.
Sunday, November 11, 2018, 6:00PM: On October 3, oil trading closed at $76.41 per barrel. Then the slide began, and by this Friday, we are now down over 20% to $60.19. This is why you can buy a gallon of gas for $2.21 in Sparta this evening, and I am surprised there are still prices above $2.60 in the area. Let’s enjoy it while we can, and unless we see a reversal in the energy markets, you can expect further retail drops. Look for under $2.40 to fill up. -EA
Comment on the October 17 posting: Prices continued to fall until October 23, when there was a mild reset to $2.85. Basically CORRECT.
Sunday, October 28, 2018, 4:00PM: In more than decade of following gas prices, more often than not we’ve seen prices slide from August until December. This year appears to be following the script, with prices solidly below $3 this month. Every time there is a different reason, and this time it is the general weakness in stock and energy markets since mid-September, for which there are a variety of theories. The good news for us is that wholesale prices are in the $2.50’s and retail prices are in the $2.70’s, so no rush to fill up. -EA
Comment on the October 7 posting: CORRECT, as prices have been falling for two weeks.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 7:30PM: Although our data feeds have been less reliable lately, what is clear is that energy prices are falling a bit, and today oil prices dropped below $70. Wholesale gas prices have taken a hit, and we are down to $2.62 on Alpine Avenue. What is puzzling is that prices on Lake Michigan Drive, which is my main focus, are the highest in the region. So, don’t buy gas there if you can help it. Going forward, it is difficult to make the case for a price hike on Thursday. I think we don’t have to worry about a quick fillup until next week. -EA
For those of you who may be wondering, the delay you’re seeing in updates to “The Spike Line” and “Today in Oil” pages is related to problems I’ve been experiencing in getting Chicago-area prices. Typically I pull prices from a specific site in the evening; that site in turn reflects postings from a price feed service. The price feed service has become erratic in sending through the updates, and thus the site I use is erratic as well. Based on what I’ve been seeing, you can expect delays of one to two days. I check periodically through the day, and update prices as soon as I see them available. While I could estimate the Chicago prices based on New York closing prices, which are reliably available, there is a fair amount of fluctuation between New York and Chicago. Because the formulas used to calculate the data for The Spike Line page are dependent on Chicago numbers, so far I’ve elected to wait to get accurate figures. If I decide to use estimates and correct the figures later I will put up a post to let you know. I apologize for the inconvenience, and hopefully things will settle down eventually. I’ve communicated with the price feed service about the problem but to no avail so far. -CP-
Comment on the September 22 posting: It wasn’t quite a prediction, but we did get a hike the following Monday, to $3.09 again. Prices have been stable since.
Sunday, October 7, 2018, 7:00PM: Oil prices spiked last week, trading above $75 a barrel on Wednesday. But this is the time of year when gas prices tend to decline, so the result was just a shrug in wholesale prices. We continue to sit in territory where a hike brings the price in Michigan back to $2.99 or $3.09. Since there are no price wars going on right now in the GR area, the best prediction is that prices will continue to fall slowly this week. Unless wholesale prices get volatile, I would not be in a hurry to fill up. -EA