Petrol prices ease to 2-month lows

Weekly Petrol Prices: July travel data

Petrol prices: According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average price of unleaded petrol fell by 4.8 cents to 117.8 cents a litre last week.

Annual comparison: For this time of the year (mid-August), petrol prices are the cheapest in four years.

Overseas travel; There were 18,300 arrivals (trips) and 57,000 departures in July.

Movements in the petrol price can affect consumer spending, and in turn, prospects for retailers.

What does it all mean?

• Filling up the car with petrol is the single biggest weekly purchase for most families. Or at least it was – with more working from home, some families may be saving a few dollars each week by not having to commute to and from the office.

• But the car is still important. So where do motorists stand? Global oil prices have found a resting point at present near US$40-45 a barrel. Also the Aussie dollar is comfortable near US71-72 cents a litre. So the wholesale unleaded price is steady near 100-105 cents a litre with the national average pump price near 115-125 cents a litre.

• This time last year pump prices were near 140-145 cents a litre. Still, with much of the world now in recession, it would be expected that demand for oil and oil prices would have softened, despite the attempts of oil producers to wind back supply.

• If anything, there is a nice balance in oil markets at present – prices that producers and consumers can live with.

• It is still a case that Aussie capital city motorists need to watch the cycles. Sydney and Melbourne prices have fallen for four weeks and now must be at or near the low point of the discounting cycle. If past cycles are anything to go by, petrol could lift 25 cents a litre in a very short space of time, costing motorists around $15 extra to fill up their tanks with fuel.

• Petrol prices fell sharply last week because discounting cycles were in alignment in major capital cities. But the Adelaide cycle has ended and Sydney and Melbourne cycles are seemingly not far behind.

What do the figures show?

Petrol prices

• According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average price of unleaded petrol fell by 4.8 cents to 117.8 cents a litre last week. The metropolitan price fell by 6.7 cents to 117.8 cents a litre, and the regional price was down by 1.2 cents to 117.7 cents a litre. The national average retail diesel price remained unchanged last week at 120.2 cents per litre

• Last week, the national average unleaded Terminal Gate Price (TGP) stood at 102.8 cents a litre, up by 1.2 cents over the week. The terminal gate diesel price stood at 105.1 cents a litre, down by 0.3 cents over the week.

• Today, the average unleaded TGP stands at 104.2 cents a litre, up 2.4 cents over the week. The terminal gate diesel price stands at 105.2 cents a litre, up 0.3 cents a litre over the week.

• MotorMouth records the following average retail prices for unleaded fuel in capital cities today: Sydney 108.7c; Melbourne 116.9c; Brisbane 117.5c; Adelaide 140.8c; Perth 106.7c; Canberra 122.3c; Darwin 118.1c; Hobart 124.1c.

• Last week the key Singapore gasoline price lifted by US20 cents a barrel or 0.4 per cent to an 8-week high of US$48.10 a barrel. In Australian dollar terms, the Singapore gasoline price rose by 74 cents or 1.1 per cent to a 5-week high of $67.21 a barrel or 2.27 cents a litre.

Provisional overseas travel data for July

All overseas arrivals to Australia in July 2020 (provisional estimates):

18,300 estimated trips, 10,700 of these are Australian citizens.

29.1 per cent decrease compared to the previous month and a 99.1 per cent decrease compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

8.4 per cent of all arrivals were New Zealand citizens, the largest group apart from Australian citizens returning home.

9.4 per cent of all arrivals were those arriving on temporary other visas.

• For July 2020 when comparing to the previous month, increases were recorded for Western Australia (64.6 per cent); and South Australia (31.9 per cent). Decreases were recorded for Victoria (99.6 per cent); ACT (95.9 per cent); Queensland (34.1 per cent); NT (12.8 per cent); NSW (3.9 per cent)

All overseas departures from Australia in July 2020 (provisional estimates):

57,000 estimated trips, 12,300 of these are Australian citizens.

42.2 per cent increase compared to the previous month and a 96.8 per cent decrease compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

11.6 per cent of all departures were Chinese citizens.

21.5 per cent of all departures were those leaving on temporary other visas.

For July 2020 when comparing to the previous month, increases were recorded for: South Australia (598.1 per cent); Western Australia (85.4 per cent); Victoria (60.6 per cent); NSW (34.9 per cent); ACT (30.0 per cent); Queensland (17.3 per cent); NT (12.5 per cent).

What is the importance of the economic data?

• Weekly petrol prices data are compiled by ORIMA Research on behalf of the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP). National average retail prices are calculated as the weighted average of each State/Territory metropolitan and non-metropolitan retail petrol prices, with the weights based on the number of registered petrol vehicles in each of these regions. AIP data for retail petrol prices is based on available market data supplied by MotorMouth.

What are the implications for investors?

• Constrained petrol prices give motorists extra spending power. At present the relatively good news on petrol prices is supporting spending, with online purchases leading the way.

• For oil producers, the path of COVID-19 is important. If a vaccine is available in coming weeks or months, it would signal a return to some sense of economic normalcy, lifting mobility and therefore fuel demand.

• It’s nice to get the latest data on overseas travel. But clearly, normality won’t occur until international borders are open. And that doesn’t appear likely for some time.

Published by Craig James, Chief Economist, CommSec