The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell to the lowest level in almost nine months as crude-oil price cuts reduced costs.
Regular gasoline slid 2.01 cents in the past two weeks to $3.3628 a gallon, the least since Jan. 25, Lundberg Survey Inc. said today.
Gasoline fell as U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude dropped $3.03, or 2.9 percent, to $100.81 a barrel on the Nymex, in the two weeks to Oct. 18. The survey conducted the same day is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The average gasoline price marks six weeks of declines.
“It would take another substantial downturn in crude oil for the retail gasoline price decline to continue,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said today in a telephone interview, noting that wholesale gasoline margins have narrowed. “The squeeze is on, so we can probably expect that wholesale price-cutting will probably slow or ease.”
The average gasoline price, which reached a year-to-date peak in the survey of $3.795 on Feb. 22, is 39.01 cents below the year-earlier price of $3.7529 a gallon.
The highest price for gasoline in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in the San Francisco Bay Area, at $3.81 a gallon, Lundberg said.
Futures climbed two weeks in a row as refineries reduced rates amid maintenance and lower margins. U.S. plants processed 14.9 million barrels a day of crude and other feedstocks in the week ended Oct. 4, the lowest amount since April 26.
Gasoline stockpiles were 7.1 percent above the five-year average for the time of year as of Oct. 4, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.
The EIA, which was closed as part of the government shutdown, tomorrow will release data for the week ended Oct. 11.
Crude inventories surged 6.81 million barrels to 370.5 million Oct. 4, the biggest gain since the week ended September 2012, EIA data show.
Supplies in the market hub Cushing, Oklahoma, slipped 168,000 barrels to 32.6 million last week, according to the EIA. Stockpiles at the hub have dropped 34 percent since June 28 as improved pipeline networks and shipments by rail eased a North American supply glut created by rising oil production from shale formations.
West Texas Intermediate crude probably will rise this week to the highest level in three months as refineries cut processing, a Bloomberg survey showed. All nine analysts who responded to the survey forecast an increase.