U.S. Gasoline Prices Are Now Cheaper Than a Year Ago

gas pricesBy CHRIS KAHN, AP Energy Writer


NEW YORK (AP) -- After dropping for most of the month, gasoline is now cheaper in much of the U.S. than it was a year ago.

That hasn't happened in more than two years, and it could be part of a larger decline in gasoline prices that could lift consumer confidence ahead of the summer driving season.

"Gasoline prices are right in your face," said Fred Rozell, retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service. "It's something you have to spend money on every week. If prices continue to decline, people will feel better."

Pump prices have dropped by 9 cents a gallon since the first week of April to a national average on Tuesday of $3.85. A year ago, the average price was $3.86 per gallon. The price of gas is coming down now because crude oil prices are lower and refineries, which turn crude into gasoline and other refined products, are getting back up to speed.

OPIS said that drivers in the Midwest and Great Lakes states are seeing the biggest drop in gasoline prices. Pump prices in Minnesota are 21 cents a gallon cheaper than they were a year ago. In Michigan, they are down 16 cents a gallon. Prices also dropped by 10 cents or more in Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

The drop at the pump should be a relief for drivers, after some earlier predictions said that Americans would pay a record $5 per gallon for gasoline this summer. As gasoline gets cheaper, analysts say Americans probably will be more likely to head out on summer road trips. They also may be more willing to open their wallets at convenience stores, hotels and tourist destinations.

OPIS expects gasoline prices to keep falling a little more over the next few weeks. Gasoline futures contracts, which are quickly reflected in pump prices, have dropped by 7% this month, including a 1% drop on Tuesday.



Last year gasoline prices ranged from a high of $3.985 per gallon last May to a low of $3.206 per gallon in December. They rose again this year, peaking at a national average of $3.946 on April 6, following a surge in oil prices and concerns about refinery closures on the East Coast.

While pump prices were rising, drivers started buying less gas. MasterCard SpendingPulse estimated that U.S. motorists bought 2.55 billion gallons of gasoline last week, down 6.1% from the same week in 2011. Americans have found a variety of ways to cut down on driving, MasterCard economist Michael McNamara said. For example, consumers skipped trips to the mall and instead bought clothing and other goods online.

"When you look at the overall retail environment, the American consumer has weathered this storm pretty well," McNamara said in a conference call with reporters.

On Tuesday gasoline futures prices fell by 2.8 cents to finish at $3.1593 per gallon in New York.

Meanwhile, oil prices were mixed as investors weighed strong U.S. corporate earnings with ongoing concern about European debt. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose Tuesday by 44 cents to end at $103.55 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international crudes, fell by 55 cents to finish at $118.16 per barrel in London.

Europe continues to be saddled with massive government debt, and borrowing costs rose Tuesday in Italy and Spain. In the U.S., stocks markets rose following strong first-quarter earnings from AT&T and 3M.

In other energy trading, heating oil gave up 1.03 cents to finish at $3.1295 per gallon while natural gas futures declined by 3.2 cents to end at $1.975 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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32 Comments

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ggschk

.................................... I CAN NOT STAND THE PRESDENT THIS COUBTRY HAS !......OBAMA IS SUCH A %$@#!ING NARCISSITIC PUKE BAG !!!!

April 28 2012 at 12:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

SOMEHOLES A SIMPLETON

OBAMAS A FIASCO

April 26 2012 at 12:20 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
BUFFALO

For some reason the fact that I was getting gouged at the pump this time last year doesn't make me feel any better about paying close to $4.00 a gallon today!

April 26 2012 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
capenv

This article is full of bull. Just another ploy by the liberal press to put a positive spin on for Obama. After all this is an erection year. Yes that's right an erection year so bend over and get ready for another four years.

April 25 2012 at 6:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to capenv's comment
Setanta

O...M..G !!!!!!!!!!!!!! naughty naughty ! and LM@O !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 26 2012 at 12:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
wwas3434

IT IS STILL 2 DOLLARS HIGHER THAN IT SHOULD BE ELIMINATE SPECULATORS OR REQUIRE THEM TO HOLD WHAT THEY BUY FOR 90 DAYS BEFORE RESELLING

April 25 2012 at 3:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
capenv

Why do bus and truck drivers run their deisel engines for hours when parked? Obviously the drivers could care less about what it costs their company in fuel or costs to the environment in wasted fuel and air pollution.
It's stupid and should stop.

April 25 2012 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to capenv's comment
Setanta

if it's not a necessity it is against the law and that's that.

April 26 2012 at 12:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mrspelosi

How unfortunate it is that there are individuals out there writing this nonsense to try and fool the American people dears. I will have to ask the driver of the bus I ride now to see how much gas is costing the bus company currently. Since I have been riding in the back of the bus I am not so aware of gas prices only the cost of bus fare darlings.

April 25 2012 at 1:38 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mrspelosi's comment
Setanta

eeeeeeeh ma ! on sabbatical or what ? was tooooooooo quiet without ya.

April 26 2012 at 12:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mgh406

Everyone is concerned about gasoline prices and well justified to do so but no one is concerned about prices in the supermarket. The inflation in food prices is just as bad as gasoline yet there is total silence. Can anyone explain this?

April 25 2012 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mgh406's comment
Setanta

LOL--they KNOW THEY are THE CAUSE OF IT and most likely because THEY HEAR ME ASKING THEM DAILY--"how's that hope and change $h*sss working out,HUH ? ! yeah,oboMBa has to clean up the mess left to him,right ? gas COST WHAT !!!!!!!!!!!! when he was installed ?
food prices here have nearly DOUBLED and it's due to fuel prices,inflation and more FOOD STAMPS being used--you think the stores are reimbursed dollar per dollar and in a timely manner ?????

April 26 2012 at 12:18 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
juancarlos6928

This article probably came from one of the good, honest and decent politician that we have in Washington.

April 25 2012 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
capenv

Who are they kidding? A gallon on reg unleaded is $4.59 in Chicago.

April 25 2012 at 11:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply