Pork the Oil

July 2, 2015

OIL PUMPSunshine and warmth this Thursday afternoon on California’s north coast — fog burned off earlier, but without much wind, and now it’s calm, so the heat’s up.

Yet what’s down as we spin a start into the fabled fourth of July weekend is gas-pump prices: ‘“Gas prices are about 60 cents below those of this time last year … The California state average gas price is $3.45, and most local gas stations are charging less than $3.50 a gallon. Neighboring state gas prices are even lower (about $2.70 a gallon in Arizona and $3.20 in Nevada),” AAA said in a statement.’

(Illustration: An oil pump ‘Horse,’ found here).

Since selling my Jeep in January and yet no new ride, I haven’t any reason to visit a gas station. Apparently, pump prices have gone back up, but nothing as they were a couple of years ago. My old Union 76 station featured $3.59 a gallon for regular, according to GasBuddy, with prices two/three cents cheaper in Arcata, about five miles south.
Of course, Eureka’s Costco comes in at the cheapest at $3.33 a gallon for regular.

The source is still way-cheaper than a year ago (via Reuters):

Brent crude rose 6 cents to settle at $62.07 a barrel, after trading from $61.90 to $63.20.
Prices turned lower in post-settlement trading.
Brent fell 2.5 percent on Wednesday.
U.S. crude dipped 3 cents to settle at $56.93, trading from $56.65 to $57.95.
It tumbled 4 percent in the previous session, the most since April, after a surprise inventory build last week.

Oil was flexed somewhat by the US jobs report that came out today — via FiveThirtyEight:

U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly report Thursday.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, the lowest it’s been since the spring of 2008, when the recession was just beginning.
Thursday’s report was far from unambiguously positive, however.
It may even have been disappointing.
The government revised down its estimate of prior months’ hiring by a combined 60,000 jobs.
The labor force actually shrank last month as job seekers quit looking for work.
Wages were stagnant.

Don’t be too quick to celebrate the drop in the unemployment rate.
The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching for work, which means the rate can fall either for good reasons (because people found jobs) or for bad ones (because people stopped looking for work).
In June, the unemployment rate fell for bad reasons.
More unemployed workers stopped looking for jobs than found work last month, and fewer people re-entered the labor force to look for work.

Strong consumers: Recent data has suggested that consumers are spending more money and becoming more confident.
Thursday’s jobs data suggests the strong consumer economy is showing up in hiring, too.
Retailers added nearly 33,000 jobs in June, and restaurants added nearly 30,000.
Meanwhile, the health care sector continued to hire at a breakneck pace, adding 40,000 jobs.
But manufacturing employment — a key source of middle-class jobs — was nearly flat in June, and the oil and gas sector continued to cut jobs.

And this all boils down to a cheaper Fourth of July for Americans — via Bloomberg:

The cost of a summer-cookout party for 10 people will be $55.84, or $5.58 per person, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which conducted a survey of prices in grocery stores across 30 states.
That’s down 3 percent from a year earlier, the Washington-based group said.
Independence Day is the most popular time of the year for Americans to cook outdoors, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association.
Oil’s more than 40 percent drop in the past 12 months has helped to keep U.S. inflation muted, while bigger harvests pushed world food costs to the lowest since 2009.

Pork spare ribs will be 3.4 percent cheaper this year, the survey showed.
Wholesale-pork prices have tumbled 28 percent in the past 12 months amid rising supplies, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As of June 1, the domestic hog herd was 8.7 percent larger than a year earlier, the USDA said on Friday.
A pound of American cheese will cost $2.86, down 8.3 percent from last year, the farm bureau said.
U.S. milk output reached an all-time high in May, government data show.

Not everything is cheaper.
Ground beef will be 2.1 percent higher than this time last year, the survey showed.
In 2014, the U.S. cattle herd shrunk to the lowest since 1952 as drought parched pastures in Texas, spurring higher prices.
Still, the rising costs will probably do little to dissuade consumers from chowing down on a burger for the holiday.

A good holiday coming up — except for the asshole fireworks…

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