Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | November 26, 2012

(WASHINGTON, November 26, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.42.  This price is 13 cents less expensive than one month ago, but it is fractions of a penny more expensive than one week ago and 12 cents more expensive that one year ago.  Today’s price is the highest on record for this calendar day and continues the streak of daily record prices that began on August 20.  The price at the pump this Thanksgiving was the highest ever for the holiday — 11 cents higher than the previous record set last year.

Over the last week, prices in 27 states have declined, led by Alaska (-10 cents per gallon), Utah (-6.8 cents) and Idaho (-6.2 cents), while motorists in Kentucky (+10.2 cents), Ohio (+7.1 cents) and Indiana (+6.5 cents) have seen the greatest price increases.  Drivers in Missouri currently pay the least for a gallon of gasoline at $3.14.  Drivers in Hawaii currently pay the most, at $4.07, and it remains the only state with an average price higher than $4 per gallon.

The national average price at the pump peaked this summer at $3.87 on September 14, the day before much of the U.S. began the transition to winter-blend gasoline.  Since that day, gas prices have fallen steadily (60 of 73 days) and are now 45 cents below the recent peak.  This decline was the product of the changeover to winter-blend fuel, which is less expensive to produce; cheaper crude oil prices; lower demand; and economic concerns.   Prices fell nearly nine cents during the second half of September and dropped more than 26 cents in October.  However, the national average has declined less than a dime to-date in November.  The reasons for this slowing decline are regional disruptions to distribution in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, higher crude oil prices, and bullish U.S. economic news.

Following the Hurricane, electrical outages and infrastructure damage disrupted regional distribution networks.  While these issues were slowly resolved, prices in impacted areas were pressured temporarily higher, offsetting falling prices in other regions.  Prices in affected areas have returned lower recently, however the decline in the national retail price of gasoline has now been impacted by rising crude oil prices.  Oil prices rose as high as $99 per barrel in September, before falling to less than $85 earlier this month.  From that low, crude prices increased to more than $89 per barrel to begin last week, and these prices continue to put upward pressure on retail gas prices.  Additionally, recent bullish economic news, including some positive signals in Washington, D.C. regarding efforts to address the looming U.S. “fiscal cliff,” have seen commodities prices, including gasoline, move higher.  A stronger economy would be expected to demand more gasoline, which puts upward pressure on prices.

At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was down 54 cents on the day to settle at $87.74 per barrel.

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