Just in time for the holidays: Lower gas prices
Prices at the pump nationally have fallen substantially in recent weeks, and are nearly back to where they ended 2011. Drivers are saving about $5.70 since mid-September on a 10-gallon fill-up.
In case you haven't noticed, you're paying less to fill up your car at the gas pump -- nearly 15% less since September and more than 16% less than what you might have paid when prices peaked in early April.
In fact, the national average retail price of gasoline is very nearly back to the price at the end of 2011, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The retail price was $3.301 a gallon nationally Thursday, down from $3.315 on Wednesday.
The price was just above -- 0.76% above to be exact -- $3.276 a gallon, the average price on Dec. 31, 2011.
The bad news in the report is that gasoline nationally has averaged $3.62 over the 348 days so far in 2012; that's the highest ever. But the average price is down about 64 cents from the high price of the year, $3.936, set on April 5 and April 6. It's down 57 cents since Sept. 14. What gives? A number of factors, says Fred Rozell, director of retailing for the Oil Price Information Service, the company that collects the data for AAA:
- Seasonality. Gasoline prices rise starting in the early winter as refiners start to build up supplies for the summer. And they typically fall starting in late summer or early fall into the winter bottom.
- Fuel efficient cars. Slowly but surely, the American auto fleet is getting younger and is more efficient. That's cut into demand at the gas pump.
- Hurricane Sandy. That's crimped gasoline demand in the middle Atlantic states as residents clean up and rebuild from the storm that crippled New Jersey, New York City and Long Island.
- A soft economy. Consumers are wary about doing a lot of traveling because they worry about a weakening business environment.
The gasoline price runup that normally starts in early winter actually began in the fall of 2011 and continued into February as the talk about Israel taking preemptive action against Iran's nuclear installations escalated.
Gasoline demand for 2012 may be the lowest since 2001, Rozell says. The peak was 2007 when the economy appeared to be soaring.
About 6% of gas stations are selling regular unleaded gas at under $3 a gallon, OPIS data show. Missouri has the cheapest gasoline, followed by Oklahoma and Texas. Hawaii is the only state where gasoline prices are still above $4 a gallon.
Light, sweet crude oil (-CL) in New York peaked at $109.77 on Feb. 24. It was at about $86 a barrel Thursday.
Brent crude, the benchmark North Sea crude, peaked at $126.20 a barrel on March 1. It's at about $108 a barrel now. Brent reflects conditions in global oil markets better than light sweet crude.
For 2013, Rozell expects a similar pattern but doesn't see retail prices reaching their 2012 peaks.
More from Money Now
I'll admit this is a first! Low gas prices at the Holidays!!! I just don't believe it there must be a catch somewhere!!!
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.
While incompetent bosses like Michael Scott and Andy Bernard typically can’t survive in the workplace, office romances are a very real part of corporate culture.
- Southwest Airlines turns less legroom into $773M
- 'American Idol' gets sorry ratings for season finale
- Powerball's wacky sense of humor
- Millions of Facebook's users are actually pets
- Can crowd funding rescue the LA Times?
- Domino's debuts a DVD that smells like pizza
- Average US retirement age climbs to 61
- McDonald's aims to slim down its 145-item menu
- Bathroom reading goes digital with iPad TP stand
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 ended this week with a bang, roaring to a new all-time high on the back of stronger-than-expected economic data, influential leadership, and an ongoing appreciation for the Fed's monetary policy support.
The bullish bias was evident in premarket action as the S&P futures pointed to a higher start without the benefit of any definitive news catalyst. Stocks indeed benefited from a blast of buying interest at the opening bell on this ... More
More Market News
All hail the bull market, which ended the week with a big rally. But it also is starting to look a little like 1987, which suffered an epic blow-out.