U.S. retail gasoline prices slipped last week to a national average of $2.51, down 5.4 cents from the prior week, and diesel fuel also slipped a bit — by 3.0 cents a gallon to $2.95. Month over month, the price slipped a penny but it remains 25 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.54, while the year-ago average was $2.28.
Falling crude oil inventories and rising prices for crude in the week ended February 9 could have been expected to push gasoline prices higher, but that didn’t happen. Partly that’s due to rising rig counts and partly to efforts on the part of refiners to get rid of winter-grade fuel as they gear-up for producing the more expensive summer-grade variety. But global crude markets are subject to a number of pressures, some pulling prices up and some pushing prices down.
Pump prices fell in 47 states last week, according to GasBuddy. Prices rose only in Hawaii, Indiana and Nevada.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:
For the second straight week, average gasoline prices fell, with nearly every state declining week-over-week as retail gas prices saw more catching up to the previous decline in crude oil prices. The trend may not be over just yet, but oil prices have rebounded from their lows and are again strengthening, which may cut the party at the pump short in the weeks ahead. Worth watching is U.S. shale oil production values which continue to increase, which may limit oil’s rally moving forward, but dead ahead on the calendar is still turnaround season at the nation’s refiners which promises at least some short-term pain for long-term gain.
According to GasBuddy, states where prices moved most last week were: Michigan (down 12 cents); Ohio (down nine cents); Illinois (down eight cents); Florida and Kentucky (down seven cents); Maryland, Maine, South Carolina and Alabama (down six cents); and Georgia (down five cents).
States with the lowest average prices last week included Mississippi ($2.25); South Carolina, Alabama and Ohio ($2.27); Missouri ($2.28); Texas ($2.29); Arkansas and Oklahoma ($2.31); Tennessee ($2.32); and Kentucky ($2.34).
The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from Hawaii ($3.42); California ($3.30); Alaska and Washington ($2.97); Nevada ($2.84); Pennsylvania and Oregon ($2.83); New York and Connecticut ($2.73); and New Jersey ($2.64).
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for March delivery traded up about 0.8% early Tuesday at $62.17, while Brent for April delivery traded at $65.25. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude fell by 33 cents to $3.08 a barrel week over week.