Man pumping gas

Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | January 27, 2014

Michael Green(January 27, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.28 per gallon. This is fractions of a penny less expensive than one week ago, two cents less than one month ago and six cents less than the same date last year.  Today’s price marks the first time in 2014 that the national average has posted a monthly discount and the first day since December 1 that it has reflected a daily, weekly and monthly discount.  After rising to $3.33 on January 3 – a two-month high – the national average has now declined for 19 of 24 days.

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The national average has trended slightly lower in January; however pump prices at the state level have been a mixed bag.  Motorists in four states are paying more than a dime less per gallon than one month ago (Michigan -11 cents, Delaware -12 cents, Indiana -13 cents, and Ohio -14 cents) and lead the 29 states and Washington, D.C. where prices have fallen during this span.  This contrasts to the 21 states where prices per gallon have increased, led by Minnesota +7 cents, Arizona +8 cents and Hawaii +9 cents.

The disparity in changing state average prices is also on display when looking just at the last two weeks.  Motorists in 36 states and Washington, D.C. are paying less to fill their cars, including those in Indiana (-11 cents) and Ohio (-12 cents). Meanwhile, drivers in 14 states face prices that have increased during the same stretch, highlighted by two Central states: Minnesota (+3 cents) and Nebraska (+5 cents).

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Crude oil prices have been relatively flat to begin in the year – West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled today just 28 cents per barrel above where it began 2014 – and as a result gasoline prices have been largely left to take direction from regional and local factors.  This has resulted in prices, particularly in the center of the country, that have been influenced by extremely cold weather.  Frigid temperatures can cause refinery issues that pressure prices higher but can also decrease demand for gasoline, as motorists limit driving, which puts downward pressure on prices.

While retail prices have fallen slightly to begin the year, there is a good chance that prices will rise in February.  This increase is likely to be the result of refineries beginning to reduce production to conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline supplies and cause market uncertainty.

At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX WTI settled 92 cents lower at $95.72 per barrel.

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