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Economic Forecasts

Some Relief in Sight at the Gas Station

Kiplinger's latest forecast on the direction of energy prices

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GDP 2.9% pace in '18, up from 2.3% in '17 More »
Jobs Unemployment rate will decline further More »
Interest rates 10-year T-notes at 3.2% by end '18 More »
Inflation 2.4% in '18, up from 2.1% in '17 More »
Business spending Up 7% in '18, boosted by expanded tax breaks More »
Energy Crude trading from $60 to $65 per barrel in October More »
Housing Price growth: 5.0% by end of '18 More »
Retail sales Growing 5.1% in '18 (excluding gas and autos) More »
Trade deficit Widening 5%-6% in '18 More »

The oil market remains on a wild ride, with prices rising or falling sharply with each new headline. The latest example: the plunge in the Turkish lira and other emerging-market currencies, which resulted in a rally in the dollar and a corresponding sell-off in dollar-denominated crude oil futures. (Since global oil contracts are priced in dollars, a stronger buck makes oil more expensive for buyers outside the United States and tends to push the price of oil down.)

But all the volatility hasn’t yet added up to a clear up — or down — trend for crude. U.S. benchmark oil has changed little, trading near $68 per barrel. We expect the churning in prices to continue until summer’s waning brings a gradual decline. In October, we look for West Texas Intermediate to trade between $60 and $65 per barrel.

Via E-mail: Energy Alerts from Kiplinger

Gasoline prices are easing ever so slightly. The U.S. national average price of regular unleaded now stands at $2.86 per gallon, down two whole pennies from a month ago. That trend should grow by the end of summer, as refineries switch over to making cheaper, winter-blend gas. Diesel, now averaging $3.15 per gallon, is also down slightly and should continue edging lower. But note that fuel prices would spike if a storm hit Gulf Coast refineries, the way Hurricane Harvey did last year.

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Natural gas prices have quietly crept up to nearly $3 per million British thermal units for the benchmark gas futures contract, for the first time since late June. Even though gas stockpiles have been unusually low this summer and demand has been strong, gas prices have struggled to gain any traction. That may be changing as traders look ahead to the start of the heating season and wonder whether today’s below-average stockpiles will be enough to keep markets well-supplied for winter.

Source: Department of Energy, Price Statistics