Gasoline Prices at 44-Month Low

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Wednesday’s national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.177 a gallon, the lowest it’s been since February of 2011. A year ago a gallon of gas cost $3.347.

Not only is the price itself low, the rate at which the price is falling is at a two-year high. Since June 27th, the price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped $0.51 according to AAA. A third of the nation’s gas stations are selling a gallon of regular gas for less than $3.00 and the most common price around the country today is $2.999 a gallon.

The average per gallon price in 10 states is below $3 a gallon and another 5 states could drop below that mark within a few days. AAA notes that most drivers are spending anywhere from $5 to $15 less to fill their tanks than they did around the Fourth of July.

WTI crude for December delivery dropped below $80 a barrel briefly this morning and is trading down about 1.4% in the early afternoon at $80.11 a barrel. Brent crude trades at $84.43 a barrel on the ICE, down about 1.2%.

Given the recent remarks by the Saudi Arabian oil minister and the further cuts to the demand growth estimates by OPEC, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the International Energy Agency, it is conceivable that prices have not yet found a bottom. The $80 barrier for WTI does not look like the floor.

The rapidly dropping price of gasoline did not translate into more retail spending in the month of September. We reported earlier today that retails sales excluding cars and gasoline fell 0.1% in September compared with the consensus estimate for sales growth of 0.5%.

Are Americans putting the money in the bank or using it to pay down debt? Our guess is paying down debt, but we’ll have to wait until early next month to find out when the Fed issues its report on consumer credit for September. In August total outstanding credit rose from $3.233 trillion in July to $3.247 trillion, a smaller increase than the nearly $22 billion rise in consumer credit between June and July. May Americans are saving more.

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