The Department of Energy and its Energy Information Administration posted the final average weekly retail diesel price for 2020, with the important benchmark rising for the eighth consecutive week.
The increase of 1.6 cents per gallon to $2.635 per gallon is the smallest jump during that eight-week period since a 1.1-cent increase on Nov. 9 that kicked off the stretch. But it means that the price, used as the basis for most diesel fuel surcharges, is up 26.3 cents a gallon since the price of $2.372 a gallon on Nov. 2, the price posted by EIA just before the string of increases began. That Nov. 2 price also was the lowest number posted all year.
With this week’s price being published, the EIA has posted its last number for calendar 2020. The bottom line: The benchmark average retail diesel price fell 44.4 cents a gallon over the course of the year, coming off its Jan. 6 posting of $3.079 a gallon. That also was the highest price for the year.
Other features of oil markets in the past week:
— The small increase posted this week comes after wholesale numbers have been trending slightly down. The national average wholesale diesel rack price according to the ULSDR.USA data series in SONAR was $1.631 a gallon on Monday. That’s down from $1.65 on Dec. 19 and 21.
— On the CME commodity exchange, where ultra low sulfur diesel climbed as high as $1.513 a gallon from a Nov. 18 recent low of $1.2042 a gallon, a slight recent pullback is evident. ULSD settled Monday at $1.479 per gallon, down 1.5% from the Christmas Eve settlement. The decline came even as equity markets hit new highs Monday. Oil and stock prices have tended to move in tandem in recent weeks.
— Spreads between diesel and Brent, which have expanded as diesel outperforms the crude benchmark, have been narrowing slightly, indicating some weakness of the product. The movement has been fairly small, with the front-month price of ULSD against Brent slipping Monday to $11.25 a barrel from $11.615 just two trading days earlier.