AAA Fuel Gauge Report | June 19, 2012
(WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline is $3.51. This is three cents cheaper than the price one week ago, 19 cents cheaper than one month ago, 15 cents cheaper than one year ago, and 43 cents cheaper than the year-to-date peak price of $3.94 in early April. The national average price at the pump has now fallen for 61 of the previous 63 days.
Drivers in all states within the continental U.S. are now paying less than $4.00 per gallon on average for gas. Motorists in South Carolina currently pay the least at the pump with a state average of $3.08 per gallon. Outside of Hawaii ($4.40) and Alaska ($4.29), California currently has the highest state average retail gasoline price at $3.99.
Lower crude oil prices and economic concerns both at home and abroad remain the primary reason for the steady decline in retail gasoline prices over the past several months. While crude prices last week remained relatively flat for a second consecutive week, persistent economic concerns and the delayed impact of the recent decline in crude prices, along with the alleviation of regional supply concerns on the West Coast, have kept downward pressure on gas prices. Pump prices can take a week or two to reflect declines in global crude oil prices as the less-expensive crude makes its way through the supply chain to consumers. While prices last week were flat, the last several weeks have seen the continuation of a $20 per barrel decline from the May 1 recent peak.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices decreased by 76 cents per barrel today to settle at $83.27 at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. Markets initially moved higher today after results from Sunday’s Greek election showed victory for the New Democracy party, which supports the international bailout designed to keep Greece from defaulting on its debt obligations. This optimism regarding the euro zone economy was short lived as focus quickly shifted to sovereign debt concerns in Spain and the overall weak financial conditions of the euro zone. The impact of economic weakness overseas on oil prices is two-fold. A weaker global economy would be expected to consume less crude oil, which puts downward pressure on prices, and because oil futures are traded in U.S. dollars, as the dollar strengthens against foreign currencies, these futures become relatively more expensive to purchase and are a less attractive investment.
Also on traders’ minds to begin this week is a slate of potentially market-moving news. This includes continued political developments following yesterday’s Greek elections; a meeting regarding the Iranian nuclear enrichment program in Moscow between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, the U.S. and the U.K.) plus Germany; finance ministers and central bank governors that make up the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Mexico to discuss the current global economic crises; and the results of an independent audit of the Spanish banking system. Successful talks with Iran could potentially continue to lessen the “risk premium” that was estimated at $20-30 per barrel during the height of geopolitical tension with that country this spring, while each financial news item could add to the growing list of concerns surrounding global economic weakness.