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Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | March 11, 2013

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.70. This price is 12 cents more than one month ago, but it is five cents less expensive than one week ago and ten cents less than the average price one year ago. The average price U.S. motorists pay at the pump has now declined for 12 straight days, which is the longest streak of falling prices in 2013.

The national average has dropped nine cents to begin March, which is counter to the trend that motorists may remember from the same stretch in recent years. The price increased by 17 cents and six cents during the same periods in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

It is too soon to say whether retail prices have peaked for the spring, because there is still refinery maintenance to be completed and much of the country must still transition to summer-blend gasoline. Yet even if prices do increase, AAA continues to predict that the national average will likely crest lower and earlier than recent years. In 2011 the national average for regular unleaded peaked at $3.98 on May 5. In 2012 the price peaked at $3.94 on April 5 and 6. The highest price to date in 2013 is $3.79 on Feb. 27.

National-Average-Gas-Price-first-half-2011-2013

Motorists in 44 states and Washington D.C. are paying less at the pump than one week ago. The most dramatic declines during this period have taken place in several Midwestern states and Kentucky, while only drivers in Hawaii (0.2 cents), Ore. (1.1 cents), Alaska (1.1 cents), Wyo. (1.8 cents), Wash. (2.0 cents) and Mont. (3.6 cents) are paying more than they were last Monday. Despite the recently lower prices in many parts of the country, motorists in every state with the exceptions of Ind., Mich., N.J., Del. and Ohio are paying more to fill up their cars than one month ago.

Top-10-Largest-Weekly-Gas-Price-Increases-3-11-13

The spike in pump prices earlier this year was a product of refinery maintenance and concerns, rather than more expensive crude oil. These refinery issues pressured both wholesale and futures prices higher for gasoline, while crude oil prices only increased slightly during the same period. The recent decline in the national average is partially due to cheaper crude oil but is more closely linked to sharply lower wholesale gasoline prices.

At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices settled up 11 cents at $92.06 per barrel. For comparison, on the nearest trading day in 2011 and 2012, WTI settled at $101.16 and $106.34, respectively. These more expensive prices in recent years were driven by violence and geopolitical tensions overseas (Libya in 2011 and Iran in 2012). Without similar concerns to begin 2013, crude oil prices have been less expensive and less volatile.

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