The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps rose 11.19 cents a gallon in the past two weeks to $3.6566 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.
The survey covers the period ended May 17 and is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company.
The average, which reached a year-to-date peak of $3.795 in the period ended Feb. 22, is 12.67 cents below the year-earlier price of $3.7833 a gallon.
The recent increase is “one of the exceptions to the rule that most likely crude oil will be the mover and shaker for change in the direction of gasoline prices at retail,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “It was driven by infrastructure problems downstream at the refinery level.”
Wholesale price increases related to refinery issues haven’t been passed fully along to consumers, and some retailers’ profit margins have been squeezed, Lundberg said. Drivers in the U.S. West and Midwest have been among the most affected by higher prices so far, she said. U.S. prices may rise 4 cents to 7 cents in coming days, Lundberg said, and increases may pause before the Memorial Day holiday next week.
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 8.15 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $2.0969 a gallon in the two weeks ended May 17. It was the highest settlement since April 9.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose 2.59 million barrels in the week ended May 10 to 217.7 million, the first increase in five weeks, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.
West Texas Intermediate oil on the Nymex rose 41 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $96.02 a barrel in the two weeks to May 17. Prices have advanced 11 percent since April 17, when they reached $86.68, the lowest settlement of the year.
Crude inventories fell 624,000 barrels in the week ended May 10 to 394.9 million, the first decline in four weeks, according to EIA data. Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the Nymex futures contract, increased 575,000 barrels to 49.7 million.
Crude futures probably will fall this week on concern that weaker economic growth will reduce fuel demand, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Eighteen of 35 analysts, or 51 percent, forecast crude will drop through May 24. Seven respondents, or 20 percent, predicted a gain. Ten said there would be little change.
The highest price for gasoline in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in Minneapolis, where the average was $4.27 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Tucson, Arizona, where customers paid an average of $3.18 a gallon.
Regular gasoline averaged $3.77 a gallon on Long Island, New York, and $4.05 in Los Angeles.
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