The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps rose 20.32 cents a gallon in the past two weeks to $3.795 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.
The survey covers the period ended Feb. 22 and is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The average has jumped 53.71 cents this year and is 10.33 cents above a year earlier.
“Although this is a steep rise, it’s not as steep as the price rise during the prior two weeks,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said today in a phone interview. “There’s reason to expect the price rise will not continue at this pace and may even end soon because crude oil prices are down and refiners are starting to cut wholesale prices to their marketing and retail customers.”
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 2.08 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.0796 a gallon in the past two weeks. Futures have climbed 9.5 percent this year, the best performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell 2.88 million barrels to 230.4 million in the week ended Feb. 15, according to the Energy Information Administration. Refineries ran at 82.9 percent of capacity, the lowest level since March, amid breakdowns and seasonal plant maintenance.
West Texas Intermediate oil on the Nymex fell $2.59, or 2.7 percent, to $93.13 a barrel in the two weeks to Feb. 22.
Crude inventories rose 4.14 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 15 to 376.4 million, the highest level since July, according to data from the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistics arm. Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the Nymex futures contract, climbed 417,000 barrels to 50.7 million.
Oil may fall this week, a Bloomberg survey showed. Twenty of 30 analysts, or 67 percent, forecast crude will drop through March 1. Five respondents, or 17 percent, predicted a gain. Five said there would be little change. Last week, 48 percent of analysts projected a decrease.
The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in Los Angeles, where the average was $4.29 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Billings, Montana, where customers paid an average of $3.23 a gallon.
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