Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | December 17, 2012

(WASHINGTON, December 17, 2012) Today’s national average of $3.25 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is the lowest price of 2012. Entering the weekend, the lowest price this year had been $3.28 on January 1; however, beginning on Saturday, the national average has reached a new 2012 low on three consecutive days.

Today’s price is nine cents less expensive than one week ago and 17 cents less than one month ago, but it is still a penny more expensive than one year ago. Despite a national average that has declined for 25 consecutive days and 64 of the previous 70, today’s price is the highest on record for this calendar day. This continues the now 120-day streak of daily record prices that began on August 20. AAA expects the national average to continue to decline approaching the end of the year and the streak of year-over-year premiums could come to an end in the coming days

In addition to hitting a new low national price for 2012, several state averages have breached notable thresholds in recent days. On Friday, the average in Hawaii dropped to fractions of a penny below $4.00 per gallon at $3.9995 (AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report website reports prices to the nearest tenth of a cent). This was the first time since January 1 and just the second time since March 13, 2011 that the price in every state was below $4.00.

On Saturday the average price in Missouri fell below $3.00 per gallon, which marked the first time since South Carolina was below that level on July 7 that a state average has breached this price point. As of today, Missouri is still the only state below $3.00; however the average pump price in nine other states is within a dime of this threshold. Motorists in Hawaii continue to pay the most expensive prices in the nation at $3.98 per gallon. This is more than 20 cents above the second highest state average: New York at $3.75. The lowest state average price remains Missouri at $2.96 per gallon.

Relief is being felt by motorists across the country as pump prices continue to fall approaching the busy year-end holiday travel period. These prices have been driven lower by a number of factors, including the switch to winter-blend fuel, which is less expensive to produce; increasing gasoline inventories; cheaper crude oil prices; lower demand; and economic concerns. Prices in every state are less than one week ago, led by dramatic declines in the Midwest: Ohio – 21 cents, Indiana – 20 cents, Michigan – 18 cents, Minnesota – 16 cents, Kentucky – 15 cents and Illinois – 14 cents.

Crude oil prices have increased slightly over the last week, but they continue to trade lower than the same period in 2011 and have kept downward pressure on retail prices at the pump. At today’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled at $87.55 per barrel, up 47 cents on the week and $1.99 from last Monday. WTI has not settled above $90 per barrel since October 19. Last year, the price of WTI settled above $90 per barrel on October 24 and did not settle below that mark again until May 23, 2012.

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