The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations rose 5.23 cents to $2.8237 a gallon, according to a survey.
The price covers the two-week period ended Oct. 22 and is determined from data provided by 2,500 filling stations nationwide to Trilby Lundberg, an independent gasoline analyst in Camarillo, California.
The higher price was mostly caused by a “surge” in crude oil prices in late September and early October, Lundberg said. Crude futures rose more than 12 percent in the three weeks ending Oct. 8. While the price has slipped since then, the earlier run-up is now being felt “at the street level where we buy gasoline,” Lundberg said in a telephone interview.
The falling value of the U.S. dollar over the past month, and not demand for motor fuels, explains most of the price increase, Lundberg said.
The Dollar Index, which IntercontinentalExchange Inc. uses to track the dollar against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, has fallen 4.8 percent since Sept. 21, when the Federal Reserve said it was poised to ease monetary policy to help the economy recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.
The Energy Department reported on Oct. 20 that crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York futures, fell 1.05 million barrels, or 3 percent, to 34 million in the week ended Oct. 15, the biggest decline since January. The decrease left stockpiles at the lowest level since April 9.
Crude Oil Prices
The front-month contract for crude oil fell 97 cents in the two weeks ended Oct. 22, losing 1.2 percent to $81.69 a barrel.
Gasoline for November delivery fell 8.74 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $2.0638 a gallon in the two weeks.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose 1.16 million barrels to 219.3 million, the first increase in four weeks.
Demand for gasoline, as measured by what refiners and blenders supply to wholesalers, rose 0.9 percent to an average 8.89 million barrels a day. The four-week average was 1.4 percent below a year earlier.
U.S. gasoline demand at the pump rose 2.7 percent in the week ended Oct. 15 after falling 0.7 percent the prior week, according to MasterCard Inc. in its SpendingPulse report.
On Long Island, regular gasoline averaged $3.01 a gallon, Lundberg said. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.10 a gallon.
The highest price in the continental U.S. was in San Francisco, at $3.16 a gallon. The cheapest place to buy the fuel was St. Louis, where a gallon averaged $2.59, according to Lundberg.