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Economic Forecasts

Prices at the Pump to Stay Low

Kiplinger's latest forecast on the direction of energy prices

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GDP 2.1% pace in '17, 2.4% in '18 More »
Jobs Hiring pace should slow to 175K/month by end '17 More »
Interest rates 10-year T-notes at 2.4% by end '17 More »
Inflation 1.3% in '17, down from 2.1% in '16 More »
Business spending Rising 3%-4% in '17, after flat '16 More »
Energy Crude trading from $40 to $45 per barrel in September More »
Housing 5.5% price growth by end of '17 More »
Retail sales Growing 3.5% in '17 (excluding gas) More »
Trade deficit Widening 4% in '17, after nearly flat '16 More »

Oil prices remain stuck in a narrow trading range. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate was recently trading at $46 per barrel, up ever so slightly from a week ago and in line with where the contract has been for much of the summer. Demand is strong, but not strong enough to whittle down excess stockpiles of crude and refined fuel in storage tanks around the world, especially since oil production continues to rise in the United States and elsewhere.

We see little change ahead for the oil market in the near term, with WTI trading from $40 to $45 per barrel in September.

Gasoline prices are also stuck in a rut. At $2.26 per gallon, the national average price of regular unleaded is unchanged from a week ago, and only four cents less than a month ago. Look for the price at the pump to continue fluctuating between $2.20 and $2.30 for most of the summer. Diesel, now averaging $2.44 per gallon, is also unchanged from last week and will likely remain between $2.40 and $2.50.

Via E-mail: Energy Alerts from Kiplinger

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Natural gas prices have perked up a tad from a week ago, with the benchmark gas futures contract recently changing hands at $3.08 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). Hot summer weather is fueling demand for gas at power plants that are working overtime to keep air conditioners running. But unless the most heavily populated parts of the country are hit with a protracted, extreme heat wave, gas demand probably won’t rise enough to spark a true price rally. Barring such a heat wave, we look for gas to stay close to $3 per MMBtu through the end of summer.

Source: Department of Energy, Price Statistics