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Gas prices on the move before Memorial Day

Gas prices are on average 17 cents lower than they were a month ago. But conditions vary depending on your location. Here's what to expect.

By Karen Datko May 23, 2012 3:25PM

Image: Buying gas (© moodboard/Corbis/Corbis)Updated May 25 at 9:57 ET

Gas prices have been on a downhill slide since early April -- good news for the nearly 35 million Americans expected to drive somewhere nice for Memorial Day. And experts' predictions that prices would fall even more as the long holiday weekend arrived were mostly correct.


But just when you thought it was safe to get back into road-trip mode, gas prices shot up in some locations. For instance, a radio station reported an overnight 20-cent spike at some Louisville, Ky., gas stations earlier this week.  (Post continues after video.)

In Clark County, Ohio, "many stations listed gas for $3.59 a gallon Tuesday morning. By 3 p.m., several stations had jumped to $3.79 a gallon," the Springfield News-Sun reported. A GasBuddy analyst said Ohio's average price jumped 6 cents in 24 hours. 


Meanwhile, the West Coast continues to get slammed by prices well above the $4 mark, due to refinery shutdowns. "Analysts on Wednesday warned that gas prices in the state could spike by as much as 35 cents before the weekend is over," The Bellingham Herald in Washington said.


Elsewhere around the nation, the price of regular continued to fall. Overall, the national average Friday is $3.666, 17.4 cents lower than a month ago.


Here's what's going on in other states, via the AAA Fuel Gauge Report:

  • In Pennsylvania, the Friday average is $3.636, down from $3.645 the day before and $3.907 a month ago. The year-ago average was $3.838, making holiday travel this year a relative bargain.
  • In New Jersey, Friday's average is $3.574, down 5.2 cents from the week before. 
  • Colorado's average is $3.755, compared with $3.884 a month ago.
  • Here in Montana, where cold and wet are predicted for much of the state, the average is $3.780, a bit higher than $3.773 a week ago and $3.774 last month.

AAA reported an average in Oregon of $4.221 on Friday, nearly a cent higher than the day before and way above last month's $4.041. In Washington, the average price is $4.242, 0.4 cent higher than Thursday. Compare that with $4.098 last month.


California gasoline is even more expensive, with a $4.302 per gallon average, but better than $4.360 a week ago.


The lowest average is in South Carolina, where Spoleto Festival USA begins this weekend -- at $3.299, compared with $3.388 the week before. 


The nationwide average is 14.8 cents lower than it was this time last year -- good news because Memorial Day is a driving holiday. AAA says 88% of those who have travel plans will be behind the wheel.


It predicts that 34.8 million Americans, about 500,000 more than a year ago, will drive at least 50 miles away from home. The average total distance traveled will be 642 miles, 150 fewer than last year. The Washington Post adds, "The biggest increase in planned travel is among those making more than $100,000."


Why have gas prices been dropping? There's plenty of supply (except on the West Coast) and lower demand. Also, says The Associated Press:

Worries about Iran interrupting oil supplies from the Middle East have eased, the Chinese economy which had sent demand up has cooled a bit and challenges to the Euro and concern about European debt has also eased speculation in oil futures.

Despite what you may believe, experts say gas prices have dropped ahead of Memorial Day for three years in a row. 

". . . it's time to put to bed an old myth that gasoline prices rise ahead of a major holiday," Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said earlier this week. "Average gasoline prices will likely continue to decline in the days ahead of Memorial Day."


Do you have travel plans for Memorial Day? How have gas prices figured into them?


More on MSN Money:

May 25, 2012 4:45PM
What a racket. when barrel for 140 then gas for 3.75. now hte barrel is 90 , the gas is 3.55. The industry is totally unregulated and all are collborating in this price fixing scheme. One cannot imagine the kind of people involved when there is billions of dollar to profit each day. Gas is like air to us, we have to consume it to survive and these companies know it. the real price at this time should have been 2:25.
May 25, 2012 6:44PM

Has anyone taken notice ??? Why dont you hear this in the news ???

October Crude 2007 $90/barrel = $2.76/gal at the pump.

Same Crude today $90/barrel = $3.86/gal at the pump.

Why are 3 of the top 5 fortune 500 2011 highest earnings big oil ???

And dont hear this in the news either, Fanny Mae holds #5 spot.  

Go figger !!!


Hate hearing the well back in my day bs.....but anyone remember just 12 years ago

gas was in the $1.20/gal range !!!

May 25, 2012 6:57PM
Gas pricing is a scam.....when demand is relevant the oil prices are high but when demand isn't in a hot spot prices drop but the prices per a gallon stays the same. I guarantee you that when the quarter profit is released from the oil companies they like always will be in the billions of dollars.

if everyone started walking and forgot they had cars how much you want to bet the oil companies would be begging you to drive because there profits would go dead. There is no reasoning behind there triple mark up. If you look at the data of what gas cost in the last 30 years it would make you sick to your stomach.

May 25, 2012 4:38PM
Its all a racket!!  Oil selling below 90 a barrel and gas is still pushing 4 bucks.  They keep talking about the decline in the price of gas -- where the hell are they seeing that?? It sure isn't here!!!  The price of gas is manipulated upwards to fill their greedy pockets.  It has nothing to do with supply and demand other than we will give you a supply when you pay what we demand
May 25, 2012 7:18PM
gas was going down til a few days ago then BAM!! up like 15 cents overnight. It took 6 weeks for it to go down 12 cents. cheaper gas prices would be in the $2 range. supply and demand. we dont use 1/2 the oil that other countries do.
May 25, 2012 5:03PM
what a crock of crap....    oh jeez... the price is down to $3.65....... whoooooo hooooooooo......

how about we quit supporting the oil producing countries with "foreign aid" until our gas prices are closer to what is going on there.....

saudi arabia...... 8¢ a gallon.....

hhhhmmmmmmmm,   i'm old but i don't ever remember getting that good a deal even all the way back in the 1960's...........
May 25, 2012 7:27PM
All the while congress sits on their collective asses while this Gas nonsense (the big LIE that it depended on supply and demand notwithstanding) continues to kill any recovery.
May 25, 2012 7:06PM
I don't know where they are looking when they say the prices are going down.  In the NW the price of gas has been going up, not down..........
May 25, 2012 4:53PM
The oil speculators' day is coming.
May 25, 2012 4:50PM
does anyone find it intresting that no where on the internet can you see historic price of oil per barrel in comparison with average oil price...You can see price of every stock, currency etc. but this comparison is nowhere to be found.
May 25, 2012 10:00PM
Well, I guess you would all be ticked off if you knew we only get 17% of the Alaska Pipeline oil. The rest is sold overseas for more profit. And did you hear, they're talking about building another pipeline to "help" us out? Just like the Alaska Pipeline. Boy what a joke.
May 25, 2012 6:40PM
I have a cousin who is a manager for the industry and he basically told me that gas prices could be lowered dramatically without hurting the profits at all.  I asked him how much and he said we could easily be paying $1.49 a gallon and the industry would still be making a good profit.  So there you go.  Thank you to our wonderful communist government for seeing to it we don't get screwed.  

Nobama in 2012! 

Thumbs down for telling the truth?  LMAO....   jerkwads. You don't know jaskshit!

May 25, 2012 7:56PM

Why question "Supply and Demand" when demand is always the thing? Come to think of it, back in the 50's and 60's I don't recall it ever being mentioned and gas supplies at the pump were usually pretty steady and slowly rising. 


But that's when you could fill a standard 20 gallon tank at the pump for about $10.00.  (and, yes I recall it even cheaper)  You know, the 'Good Old Days' when the rest of the World remembered what our Military and Manufacturing Might had accomplished a decade or so earlier. (and appreciated it)


Seems that the cheering for the USA around the World has gone the same way as our own patriotic spirit, drained like a sludgy oil tank on our cars.  FORGET THE GAS-WAR Present and give a thought to those Who FOUGHT AND DIED to give us the chance to enjoy This WEEKEND that should be dedicated to their memories.

May 25, 2012 10:59PM

Seems like I read something last week about the US exporting more oil than it imports.

It's all just a big game to the greedy, money grubbing oil companies and their bought and paid for news media outlets.

The only remaining part of the "law" of Supply & Demand is.....the freakin oil companies DEMAND

that we SUPPLY them more of our money for their overpriced products.


And where in the hell are all the antitrust laws that are supposed to protect us from these


May 25, 2012 9:28PM
This is such garbage here in Washington within the last month gas has gone up .35 cents as the price of oil has gone done. Explain that one to me oh yeah it was the refinery in California is shut down mode due to maintenance, the corporate  news doesn't tell us hey by the way we could fix this problem with our dependence on foreign oil. Oh its called bio-fuels which Formula ! and NASCAR  use and the way to get it? Ohhh yeah that is simple to, just let water hit the sunlight and algae is created and the bio fuel is created from that. Why doesn't the news report about that? Oh yeah there is no money for corporations. 
May 25, 2012 5:07PM

The closer it gets to election time the prices will fall further and the dems and their failing president will take credit for it.


May 25, 2012 5:18PM
These articles PISS ME OFF!!!!!!! They would like you to believe that gas is soooooo cheap and that we should thank our administration for this!!!! Well I say once gas gets below $1 then we can talk but in the meantime gas is still outrageous and we need to keep drilling!!!!!! 
May 25, 2012 9:18PM
Refinery shutdown my ****, it's all about the big oil companies getting every last dime from the west coast to make up for the lower prices else where across the nation. Just like with diesel fuel, they raise the price on diesel to make up for the difference in the lower fuel price of unleaded.
If t is because of a refinery shutdown shouldn't these oil companies be building more newer refineries to take up the slack when they shutdown.  
May 25, 2012 8:31PM
What a joke.  Gas prices drop 17 cents to 3.59.  Did anyone miss the part gas is still $3.67.  Such BS.
May 25, 2012 6:43PM
Why should gas be going up in Oregon. They seem to have plenty of gas here there's no shortage, so whats going on?  I think the gas supplier's are laughing all the way to the bank and just sticking it to us. I could understand gas going up because of an obvious shortage but they seem to  have plenty of gas to sell. I think a few heads ought to be hanging in shame.
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