Energy Prices Forecast

Economic Forecasts

Gasoline Prices to Remain Tame This Holiday Season

Kiplinger's latest forecast on the direction of energy prices

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GDP 2019 growth will be 2.3%; 1.8% in 2020 More »
Jobs Job gains of about 150,000 per month in ’20 More »
Interest rates 10-year T-notes staying around 2% until trade war ends More »
Inflation 2.2% in ’19, up from 1.9% in ’18 More »
Business spending Up just 2% in ’19 amid uncertainty of trade war More »
Energy Crude trading from $60 to $65 per barrel in March More »
Housing 3.5% price growth by year-end ’19 More »
Retail sales Growing 4.3% in ’19 (excluding gas and autos) More »
Trade deficit Widening 7% in ’19 More »

Crude oil prices remain near the top of their recent trading range, with benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude at $59 per barrel. Hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal, plus OPEC’s recent move to further cut its combined oil exports, have caused traders to bid up oil prices by several dollars per barrel. Meanwhile, there are signs that prodigious U.S. production growth may start to slow as energy firms drill fewer new wells.

If the economy continues to chug along, we look for WTI prices to trade from $60 to $65 per barrel in March. The combination of solid demand and reduced output should push prices a bit higher as winter turns to spring.

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For now, gasoline prices are easing slightly. The national average price of regular unleaded slipped by two pennies from a week ago to reach $2.57 per gallon. Odds are prices at the pump will hold fairly steady in coming weeks, with only minor ups and downs — unless crude oil prices make a sharp move higher or lower. But by late winter, look for the price at the pump to climb as refiners get ready to start producing summer-blend gas. Diesel, now averaging $3 per gallon, is down one cent from last week and also figures to stay mostly flat in the near term.

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Natural gas prices remain deeply depressed. After a quick rally earlier this autumn, the benchmark gas futures contract has sunk back to $2.25 per million British thermal units, close to a multiyear low. Winter is here and heating demand is up, but with so much gas held in storage, and so much more being produced every day, the market is likely to remain well supplied. Only a severe, long-lasting bout of cold weather across a large swath of the country would be enough to give gas prices a meaningful boost.

Source: Department of Energy, Price Statistics