US Gas Prices Slipped Last Week, Volatility Increasing

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The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped by 2.6 cents in the past week, to start this week off at a price of $2.88, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. The cost of diesel fuel added 1.6 cents last week and now retails for $3.29 a gallon.

Month over month, the price is up by 2.5 cents per gallon, and it has jumped to more than 42 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.86, while the year-ago average was $2.46.

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

The last week has seen a flurry of events to keep an eye on, while the recent drop in oil prices materialized at pumps across the country, but nowhere have the declines been as large as Great Lakes states. Great Lakes states have wreaked havoc on the national average, sending it down considerably as stations there have passed along the recent drop in oil prices relatively quickly. However, while Great Lakes motorists were seeing lower prices, average prices along the West Coast, mainly in Washington and Oregon, have started to jump after a natural gas pipeline explosion last week pushed some refineries to close. In addition, events in Saudi Arabia bear monitoring as the West claims the Kingdom is behind the disappearance of a Washington Post journalist and could rile tensions between the world’s largest oil consumer and one of the world’s largest oil producers. I believe gas prices in most areas East of the Rockies will drift lower, but keep an eye out on these new developments. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen autumn so rife with possible volatility at the pump as we’re seeing now.

Crude oil prices traded essentially flat Monday. The Census Bureau reported in the morning that retail gasoline sales in September fell on a dollar volume basis by 0.8% month over month but remain up by 11.4% compared to September 2017.

States with the lowest average prices last week included South Carolina ($2.60), Mississippi ($2.60), Alabama ($2.62), Louisiana ($2.63) and Oklahoma ($2.64). The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from Hawaii ($3.84), California ($3.82), Washington ($3.52), Oregon ($3.37) and Alaska ($3.35).

Prices dropped the most in Michigan (12.3 cents), Ohio (11.1 cents), Indiana (10.0 cents), Illinois (7.6 cents) and Kentucky (6.1 cents).

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for November delivery traded down less than 0.1% in the noon hour Monday at $71.30, while Brent for December delivery traded at $80.29, down about 0.2%. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude decreased from $10.00 to $8.99 a barrel week over week.

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