US Gasoline Price Popped Higher Last Week

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While last week’s news on retail gasoline prices was mixed, this week’s is solidly negative. A gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.53 Monday morning, up four cents for the week, up nearly a dime in a month and 19 cents more year over year. Last month the national average was $2.44, while the year-ago average was $2.35.

Among the 50 states, 48 experienced gas price increases last week. Only two states — Hawaii and Massachusetts — reported lower prices, and the decrease was only a fraction of a penny in both cases.

Crude oil inventories have fallen by almost 64 million barrels over the past 12 months, largely due to stronger demand. Refineries are working at about 95% of capacity and have been processing oil at a rate of around 17 million barrels a day for some time. Gasoline inventories are rising and aren’t being affected by higher exports

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:

With oil prices rallying to their highest level since 2014, it’s no surprise that gasoline prices continue to show frustrating strength for this time of year. While winter is usually a time for modest declines at the pump, this year has seen anything but. While two years ago areas of the country flirted with sub-$1 gas prices, we now see most areas more than double that. One bright spot, however, is that gasoline production remains very strong at a time of year when it tends to be weak, and that could open the door for some larger discounts in the weeks ahead as refiners begin to move winter gasoline out of inventories to prepare for the transition to cleaner-burning gasoline. The window is relatively small and closes shortly after Valentines Day, so don’t expect much improvement before the annual spring surge begins

States where prices moved most last week were: Michigan (up 12 cents); Iowa (up nine cents); Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois (up eight cents); Kansas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Minnesota (up seven cents); and Tennessee (up six cents).

States with the lowest average prices last week included Missouri ($2.26); Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas ($2.28); South Carolina ($2.29); Oklahoma ($2.30); Louisiana ($2.31), Tennessee ($2.33); and Kansas ($2.35).

The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from Hawaii ($3.30); California ($3.18); Alaska ($3.09); Washington ($2.90); Pennsylvania ($2.80); Oregon ($2.78); Nevada ($2.74); Michigan ($2.72); Connecticut ($2.69); and New York ($2.67).

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for February delivery traded up about 0.5% shortly before Monday’s early close at $64.66, while Brent for March delivery traded at $70.08. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude narrowed by nearly about 68 cents to $5.42 a barrel week over week.