GasNozzle

AAA Fuel Gauge Report | April 30, 2012

(WASHINGTON, April 30, 2012) Bearish economic data weighed on oil prices this morning, however crude rallied late this afternoon to settle down just six cents at $104.87 per barrel at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX.  Key factors that are resulting in downward pressure on crude oil prices include reports over the last several days that the U.S. and European economies might be slowing.  European news highlighted a downgrading of Spain’s credit rating late last week as data reflected that the Spanish economy had recorded its second consecutive quarter of economic contraction, meaning that it is officially in recession.  U.S. economic data reported today showed a decline in both manufacturing and consumer spending.  Weaker economies domestically and overseas would be expected to consume less crude oil which puts downward pressure on prices.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices moved slightly higher last week, on a relatively quiet week for the futures markets.  While Wednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting did not yield the bullish headlines that have at times pressured markets higher, it did reaffirm the Federal Reserve’s commitment to keeping interest rates low through 2014 to promote growth.  This policy is expected to put upward pressure on crude prices.  The weekly Department of Energy report the same day counteracted some of that sentiment.  The report showed continued demand destruction and a drawdown in crude oil and gasoline stocks that was not as dramatic as some market analysts had expected.  Crude oil stocks increased by nearly four-million barrels to 373-million, and have some analysts suggesting that inventories may surpass 380-million barrels this year, which would not only surpass the 2011 peak (373.8 million barrels on May 27), but would be the highest level since before the Gulf War in August 1990.

Also keeping some downward pressure on crude prices has been the reported easing of geopolitical tensions with Iran, which is said to be considering steps to scale back its nuclear program following the escalation of international sanctions and political pressure since December of last year.  Earlier this year, analysts estimated that a 20-30 dollar “risk premium” in global crude oil prices could be attributed to tensions with Iran.  Continued easing of these tensions would be expected to lower this premium and keep downward pressure on futures prices.

February and March of this year saw the national average price at the pump increase for all but four days — rising 48 cents from $3.45 on February 1 to $3.93 on March 31.  April has seen a full reversal of this trend as prices fell for 23 of 30 days during the month, and have now declined for 14 consecutive days — falling by nine cents during this most recent streak. 

State

4/30/2012

4/30/2011

Difference

AL

$3.669

$3.733

$0.064

AR

$3.616

$3.782

$0.166

CA

$4.163

$4.245

$0.082

CT

$4.098

$4.225

$0.127

DC

$4.029

$4.114

$0.085

DE

$3.771

$3.926

$0.155

FL

$3.795

$3.875

$0.080

GA

$3.680

$3.802

$0.122

IA

$3.614

$3.878

$0.264

IL

$4.008

$4.194

$0.186

IN

$3.861

$4.143

$0.282

KS

$3.581

$3.791

$0.210

KY

$3.741

$3.884

$0.143

LA

$3.690

$3.770

$0.080

MA

$3.865

$3.956

$0.090

MD

$3.827

$3.940

$0.113

ME

$3.907

$3.933

$0.026

MI

$3.830

$4.142

$0.312

MN

$3.662

$3.920

$0.258

MO

$3.539

$3.771

$0.232

MS

$3.674

$3.721

$0.047

NC

$3.788

$3.816

$0.028

ND

$3.782

$3.891

$0.109

NE

$3.685

$3.939

$0.254

NH

$3.827

$3.887

$0.060

NJ

$3.746

$3.837

$0.091

NM

$3.727

$3.803

$0.076

NV

$3.924

$3.938

$0.014

NY

$4.100

$4.135

$0.035

OH

$3.742

$4.109

$0.367

OK

$3.545

$3.779

$0.234

PA

$3.863

$3.946

$0.083

RI

$3.927

$4.015

$0.088

SC

$3.598

$3.693

$0.095

SD

$3.718

$3.875

$0.157

TN

$3.646

$3.742

$0.095

TX

$3.706

$3.825

$0.119

UT

$3.702

$3.715

$0.013

VA

$3.751

$3.839

$0.088

WI

$3.824

$4.011

$0.187

WV

$3.857

$4.023

$0.166

 The current national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline is $3.82.  This is four cents cheaper than the price one week ago, 11 cents cheaper than one month ago and also 11 cents cheaper than one year ago.  This marks the seventh consecutive day that the national average price at the pump has been lower than the year ago level.  Prior to last Tuesday, when this streak began, it had been 911 days (October 26, 2009) since the national average price for gas was lower than the same day the year prior.  As of today, 40 states plus the District of Columbia have an average price at the pump that is lower than the price the same day last year.  A full list of these states and each year-over-year difference is included at left.

The above information is intended to provide perspective on fuel prices to AAA club spokespersons in speaking to the news media or in preparing news releases.  If you have questions about any information contained in this document, do not hesitate to contact Michael Green at (202) 942-2082.

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