U.S. Gasoline Unchanged at $3.61 a Gallon, Survey Shows

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations was unchanged at $3.6093 a gallon.

The price covers the two-week period ended Aug. 26 and is derived from a survey of about 2,500 filling stations nationwide by Camarillo, California-based Trilby Lundberg. The average price is about 30 percent above a year earlier, when the average was $2.7722.

“In the crude oil market, the rebels storming Tripoli was not a significant price issue,” Lundberg said in a telephone interview. “In the gasoline retail market, on average, Irene has not and did not appear in the price.”

Irene, which weakened to a tropical storm earlier today, may serve as a “negative demand factor” and help drive down prices at the pump over the next two weeks, she said.

Gasoline for September delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 11.24 cents, or 4 percent, to $2.9346 a gallon in the two weeks ended Aug. 26. Futures are down 15 percent since reaching a 33-month high of $3.4648 on April 29.

Futures have since declined on indications that the U.S. economy recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s has stalled.

Economic Growth

The U.S. economy grew less than previously estimated in the second quarter. Gross domestic product climbed at a 1 percent annual rate from April through June, down from a 1.3 percent prior estimate, revised Commerce Department figures showed on Aug. 26.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment slumped in August to 54.9, the lowest level since May 1980, from 63.7 the prior month. The Bloomberg Comfort Index’s monthly expectations gauge slumped in August to the weakest since March 2009. The index measures consumer views on the economy, personal finances and buying climate.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said on Aug. 26 that the central bank still has tools to stimulate a recovery that has been weaker than forecast while sticking to his view that growth will pick up.

Bernanke Speech

Bernanke, in a speech to central bankers and economists at an annual forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said the recovery is likely to improve in the second half of this year as he sought to reassure investors and the public that U.S. growth is safe in the long run and the Fed can aid the recovery if needed.

The amount of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market by refiners and blenders fell 2 percent to 9.01 million barrels a day last week, the lowest level for this time of year since 2002, according to Energy Department data. American drivers last week bought 4.2 percent less fuel than a year earlier, MasterCard Inc. (MA) said Aug. 23.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles increased 1.36 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 19 to 211.4 million.

The front-month crude oil contract is little changed, settling at $85.37 a barrel on Aug. 26, 1 cent lower than two weeks earlier.

Crude prices may fall this week as Libyan rebels consolidate their hold on the country after deposing leader Muammar Qaddafi and begin taking steps to restore exports, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Analyst Forecasts

Seventeen of 34 analysts, or 50 percent, forecast oil will decline through Sept. 2. Nine respondents, or 26 percent, predicted prices will increase and eight estimated there will be little change during the period. Last week 42 percent of surveyed analysts projected a decline.

Crude oil supplies fell 2.21 million barrels to 351.8 million in the period ended Aug. 19, the biggest drop since December. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil, fell 0.1 percent to 33.7 million, a nine-month low.

On Long Island, regular gasoline averaged $3.88 a gallon, Lundberg said. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.72 a gallon.

The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities surveyed on Aug. 26 was in Chicago with $4.02 a gallon. The lowest price was in Tucson, where a gallon averaged $3.26, Lundberg said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Doan in San Francisco at ldoan6@bloomberg.net; Barbara J Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net.

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