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Crude prices in flux due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and vaccine optimism

The Week

Gas prices across the region continued to increase this week, but at a slower pace than the week before. Price increases have been seen nationwide over the last few weeks. The last time the nation saw a substantial January pump price increase was in 2009. That year, the national gas price average jumped 23 cents inside of the first three weeks of the year. At that time U.S. gasoline demand and supply were lower and crude oil prices had been increasing, similar to today.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.39, up two cents in the last week, up 16 cents in the last month, and down 15 cents from this time last year.

     Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

  01/22/21 Week Ago Year Ago
National $2.39 $2.37 $2.54
New Jersey $2.54 $2.52 $2.61
Trenton $2.59 $2.56 $2.66
Cape May County $2.61 $2.59 $2.60
Burlington $2.54 $2.52 $2.51
Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon Counties $2.57 $2.55 $2.63
Monmouth, Ocean Counties $2.58 $2.56 $2.62
Crude Oil $52.27 per barrel (01/22/21) $52.36 per barrel (01/15/21) $54.19 per barrel (01/24/20)


At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $52.27 per barrel, nine cents lower than last Friday’s close. Crude prices have been fickle this week as the market held expectations of a larger stimulus plan from the Biden administration but on the flip side had concerns about the number of new coronavirus cases, particularly a new surge in China. The International Energy Agency earlier this week added to the concerns, revising its oil demand outlook for this year to be lower than originally predicted.

The Weekend

“Rising crude oil prices have led to an increase at the pump for drivers around the region in the past few weeks,” said Tracy E. Noble, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Although the price increase seems to be slowing, continued higher crude oil prices could sustain gas prices rather than seeing them drop as they typically do during winter months.”

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