Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | December 10, 2012

(WASHINGTON, December 10, 2012) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.34. This price is a nickel less expensive than one week ago and 11 cents less than one month ago, but it is still a nickel more expensive than one year ago. While the national average has declined for 18 consecutive days, today’s price is the highest on record for this calendar day. This continues the streak of daily record prices that began on August 20.

The year-over-year premium during this recent streak peaked at 42 cents on October 7, following a historic surge in pump prices in California, before it closed to just fractions of a penny on November 12. The gap widened again to more than a dime to end November but has narrowed in December as retail prices have steadily fallen. With only three weeks remaining in 2012, it is all but certain that the average price this year will be the most expensive on record. The 2012 national average to-date is $3.62; the previous record was last year at $3.51.

Over the last week, the average pump price in every state has fallen. The weekly decline was most dramatic in Nevada (-9.9 cents), Idaho (-9.5 cents) and Missouri (-9.4 cents). Motorists in Hawaii continue to pay the most for gasoline at $4.02 per gallon, while those in Missouri pay the least at $3.05. If the price in Missouri falls below $3 per gallon, it would be the first time since July that a state average has broken that threshold. If the state average in Hawaii drops below $4, it would be the first time since New Year’s Day — and just the second time since March 13, 2011 — that no state has averaged above that price.

Pump prices across the country have steadily declined as U.S. demand for gasoline continues to be low and inventories continue to be high. The exception is the East Coast, where supplies are increasing but remain somewhat tight following the disruption to distribution following Hurricane Sandy and the limited imports from Europe due to the higher global crude oil prices paid by overseas refiners. While nationwide demand will likely increase slightly as motorists travel to visit family for the holidays, demand is expected to remain low to begin 2013, which will keep downward pressure on gasoline prices.

Lower crude oil prices have also contributed to the cheaper gas prices paid by consumers. At today’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was down 37 cents to settle at $85.56 per barrel. WTI has settled lower for five consecutive trading days and is at it’s lowest price since November 15.

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