U.S. Gasoline Rises to $3.39 a Gallon, Lundberg Survey Shows

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations rose 3.48 cents to $3.3944 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The price increase covers the two-week period ended Jan. 20 and is based on the Camarillo, California-based company’s survey of about 2,500 stations. The average is 28 cents higher than a year earlier, when it was $3.1111 a gallon.

“The reduced margins on gasoline for retailers has suggested upward pressure on the price as they try to make a bit more per gallon,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “It would take crude oil staying as low as it is to prevent any retail price increase.”

Gasoline for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 3.28 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $2.7844 a gallon in the two weeks ended Jan. 20.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles jumped 3.72 million barrels to 227.5 million in the week ended Jan. 13, according to the Energy Department. Inventories are the highest in 10 months after rising 11 percent since Nov. 4.

Deliveries Sink

Deliveries to wholesalers are at a 10-year low, sinking 2.2 percent from the prior week to 8 million barrels a day. Over the past four weeks, consumption was 6.1 percent below a year earlier, while total fuel supplied in the U.S. was down 7.2 percent.

Demand at the pump in the week ended Jan. 13 fell below year-earlier levels for the 20th consecutive time, declining 3.5 percent from 2011, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse report on Jan. 18. During the previous four weeks, consumption was 3 percent below a year earlier, the 43rd straight fall in that measure.

The front-month crude oil contract fell $3.10, or 3.1 percent, in the two weeks ended Jan. 20 to settle at $98.46.

Crude prices may rise this week on speculation that an economic recovery in the U.S., the world’s top oil consumer, will boost demand, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Eighteen of 40 analysts, or 45 percent, forecast oil will advance through Jan. 27. Fifteen respondents, or 38 percent, predicted a decline and seven estimated there will be little change. Last week, 50 percent of analysts projected a drop.

Crude Supplies Fell

Crude oil supplies fell 3.44 million barrels to 331.2 million in the seven days through Jan. 13, according to department data. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil, fell 2.9 percent to 28.3 million, the lowest level since November 2009.

On Long Island, regular gasoline averaged $3.66 a gallon in the latest survey, Lundberg said. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.71 a gallon, which was the highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities priced as part of the Lundberg Survey.

The lowest price among the cities surveyed was in Salt Lake City, where a gallon averaged $2.94, Lundberg said.

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