Gas Prices Plunge, Hit Lowest Average Since Early April

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U.S. retail gasoline pump price increases fell by 7.1 cents last week to a national average of $2.73 for a gallon of regular gas. Although the price of crude oil rose by more than 1% last week, it remains down about 12% over the past four weeks. Continuing trade tensions with China and rising inventories continue tamping down prices.

Futures and options traders have accelerated dumping their long positions in major petroleum contracts, but with longs still outpacing shorts by less than five to one on West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contracts. In January, the long-to-short ratio was just two to one.

Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, commented, “Last week saw a feat most motorists probably thought they’d never see in June-average gasoline prices declined in nearly every state across the country with the national average now at its lowest point since early April. The fall has come amidst a deep drop in oil prices set in to play on worries that tariffs could slow economic growth, reducing oil demand.”

DeHaan continued, “The decline at the pump is likely to continue but may slow down in a few weeks … With gasoline inventories also growing in most areas of the country [and] the transition to summer gasoline complete, motorists will continue to see prices moving lower as the summer driving season gets underway. We’re likely to see more good news at the pump than bad for the foreseeable future.”

Retail gas prices dipped in most states last week. The most common price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.59, 20 cents a gallon lower than the prior week as prices in the Midwest dropped sharply following a big jump in the prior week. Gas at the most expensive 10% of U.S. gas stations averaged $3.80, while prices at the least expensive 10% of gas stations averaged $2.24. The median price at all stations was $2.61, down nine cents from the prior week.

At the same time last month, gas prices averaged $2.87, about 14 cents above the current price. A year ago, the national average price was about $2.92, 19 cents higher than the most recent price. GasBuddy continuously updates crowd-sourced gas prices at its website.

California drivers were paying $3.92 on average for a gallon for gas Monday morning (down seven cents week over week), with drivers in Hawaii ($3.83), Nevada ($3.48), Alaska ($3.47) and Washington ($3.40) rounding out the five states with the highest prices. Drivers in Oregon, Arizona, Utah and Idaho also were paying more than $3 a gallon.

At the other end of the spectrum, drivers in Mississippi ($2.29), Alabama ($2.34), Louisiana ($2.34), South Carolina ($2.35) and Arkansas ($2.39) were paying the least for gas.

WTI crude oil for July delivery traded down about 0.2% shortly before noon Monday at $53.86, while Brent for August delivery traded at $62.85, down about 0.7%. The price differential (spread) between front-month WTI and Brent crude is now around $8.99 a barrel, which is $1.93 cents narrower than a week ago.

While oil companies and oil traders and nations that depend on oil exports for a big portion of the gross domestic product may have the jitters, 17 carmakers wrote to the president last week practically begging him not to loosen the mileage and emissions deal they struck with President Obama back in 2012.


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