Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | May 5, 2014

Michael Green(WASHINGTON, May 5, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.67 per gallon. This is two cents less expensive than one week ago, but it is 10 cents more than one month ago and 15 cents more than the same date last year.  Gasoline prices may have reached a springtime peak of $3.70 per gallon last week, though it is too early to know for certain.

After widening to a 20-cent premium last Monday — the largest difference since July 22, 2013 — the gap has closed each day for the past week and will likely continue to narrow in coming days. While prices this year are falling, prices at the same time in 2013 were increasing from a spring low. Today’s price remains lower than the same date in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, on this same calendar date, the national average peaked at $3.98 per gallon.  In 2012 the peak was $3.94 per gallon on April 5 and 6.


After increasing for 77 of 80 days, the national average has now fallen for seven straight days, which is the longest stretch since January. Domestic crude inventories are beginning to build, and data from the US Energy Information Association (EIA) is showing stockpiles at an all-time high.  Some of the biggest builds are occurring in the Gulf Coast region, and gasoline from this region remains some of the cheapest in the nation. This increase in supply is partly due to refineries coming back online, following the completion of maintenance projects scheduled in anticipation of the May 1 deadline for refineries to produce summer-blend gasoline, and is also attributed to output outpacing demand.


Drivers in 32 states saw the price at the pump decline over the past 7 days, with the largest decreases in:  Indiana (-13 cents), Michigan and Ohio (-11 cents), and Illinois (-7 cents). Pump prices in the Midwest have often been the most volatile in the country as refinery issues, supply bottlenecks and logistical issues have caused sometimes dramatic fluctuations.   

While prices in many states are beginning to fall, virtually every state still registers a month-over-month premium and many still reflect sizable increases. Prices in 24 states and Washington D.C. increased by double digit increments during this span, headlined by California and Utah (+22 cents), and Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Idaho (+19 cents).


Tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain front of mind, and the latest round of sanctions is sustaining the geopolitical “risk premium” that is factored into the market. Additionally, disappointing economic data from China and the expectation that delays in oil supplies from Libyan ports will persist, continue to influence the global market. At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI closed 28 cents lower at $99.48 per barrel.  After 17 consecutive settlements above $100 per barrel, WTI has now finished below that threshold on four straight days.  




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