Last Week’s Gas Price Increase Erased As East Coast Enjoys A Summer Break In Price Hikes
The price of gas reversed course during the past week as the 2¢ gains that were reported in the June 2 government fuel price survey were wiped out this week. The pricing news is journaled in the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This week’s E.I.A. report shows the price of gas did a precise about-face, at least on a national level, while prices declined more so in many regions. The Rocky Mountain States and the broader West Coast region, which does not include California, were the only survey areas where prices stagnated. At the national level, the price of gas now averages about $3.67 for a gallon of regular unleaded, exactly where it was two weeks ago.
The biggest price declines were found along the East Coast, particularly in the Lower Atlantic States, where prices were down over two cents, on average, from last week. Along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest, prices were also off by about two pennies, but for the Midwest, as usual, the average price data are distorted by substantial swings in fuel costs in certain states. For instance, in Ohio, which has endured substantial price volatility, the average gallon of gas costs 12¢ less this week. At the city level, the numbers are even more telling. For Cleveland, the price of gas dropped about 12¢, much like its home state of Ohio, but two states over, in Illinois, the price of gas in Chicago only fell about 4¢ per gallon.
Truckers Catch A Break As Diesel Drives Below $3.90
For the first time since January, the national average price of diesel fuel dropped below $3.90 per gallon, according to this week’s E.I.A. report. The price of diesel slipped downward by almost 3¢ per gallon during the past week, officially settling at $3.89. That price point is the best figure truckers and other diesel drivers have seen since the end of January, when prices began a continue climb to well over $4.00 per gallon.
While this week’s news is good for truckers, prices in New England, the Central Atlantic region and in California remain well above $4.00 per gallon. Only the drivers in the Gulf Coast states are enjoying relatively low diesel prices, as the average from Alabama through Louisiana is now about $3.77 per gallon.
Uncertainty Looms As Crude Oil Futures Soar Once More
While this week’s gas price survey is the best report from the EIA in about a month, the news is not likely to persist in drivers’ favor. The reason is the all-important crude oil futures index, West Texas Intermediate, which has been trading in record territory in this year. In fact, after-hours trades on Monday, June 9, were the their highest level of the year, and the highest level seen in three years. Investors trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange had bid the WTI up to about $104.50 per barrel as of 8:30 p.m. Monday night. That would place the futures index, at least on the NYMEX, within range of its three-year high, a portent of what could face consumers at the retail level come July.
Bloomberg News is citing a number of factors for the increase in the futures price, including tightening supplies of crude oil in the United States, which is the world’s largest oil market. Other factors included speculation in the wake of last week’s favorable unemployment report, which leads investors to believe more people will be on the road for business and pleasure in the coming weeks. The likelihood of increased demand during the summer travel season, coupled with renewed demand from China, has investors eyeballing the possibility of tighter supplies amid increased consumer need.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported renewed unrest in Libya, where political discord during the past three years has severely disrupted production. Output is being reported at only about 180,000 barrels of oil per day, compared with about 1.3-million per day one year ago.