US Gas Price Slipped Slightly, but Uncertainty Lies Ahead

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The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline fell by nearly a cent in the past week to start this week off at a price of $2.83, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. The summer driving season (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend) posted an average price of $2.87 a gallon, the highest since 2014. Pump prices reached a year-to-date high of $2.97 at the Memorial Day holiday and have been declining slowly ever since.

Month over month, the price is down by just a tenth of a cent per gallon and remains about 29 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.841, while the year-ago average was $2.551.

Retail gasoline prices were 55 cents a gallon higher this year compared to the summer driving season of 2017, but 71 cents below the 2014 average.

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

With a muted response from OPEC to President Trump’s exhortation via Twitter that OPEC do something to reign in high oil prices, we may see energy markets rally as concerns grow that Iran’s sanctions effective in November may pose more a challenge to global supply than anticipated. Oil prices jumped to fresh highs last night on reaction to the chilly reception to Trump’s concern, with several oil ministers downplaying the rise in oil prices. Moving forward, with Iran’s oil essentially out of reach, gas prices may not see the typical decline we had been expecting as recently as the last two weeks as new concerns emerge about the tightrope balance some oil producing countries are hoping for- pushing supply down as global demand rises. That’s not going to be good news for motorists.

We have already noted some similarities between what is happening today and what happened more than a decade ago when crude oil was climbing to all-time highs in the neighborhood of $140 a barrel.

States with the lowest average pump prices last week included: Mississippi and Alabama ($2.51), Louisiana ($2.53), South Carolina ($2.55), Texas and Tennessee ($2.57), Arkansas ($2.58), Virginia ($2.61), Missouri ($2.62) and Oklahoma ($2.65).

The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from Hawaii ($3.71), California ($3.63), Washington ($3.34), Alaska ($3.26), Oregon ($3.23), Idaho ($3.18), Nevada ($3.17), Utah ($3.08), Pennsylvania ($3.04) and Connecticut ($3.00).

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for November delivery traded up about 2.2% in the noon hour Monday at $72.36, while Brent for November delivery traded at $81.09. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude decreased by $0.48 to $8.73 a barrel week over week.