The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell 7.26 cents in the past two weeks to $3.4728 a gallon, according to the Lundberg Survey Inc.
The survey covers the period ended Nov. 16 and is based on information obtained from about 2,500 stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The average is up 9.21 cents from a year earlier. Gasoline is 49 cents below the year-to-date high of $3.9671 on April 6.
“The decline is big enough to be a help to consumers in a shaky economy,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. The decline was the result of lower demand at beginning of daylight saving time and Hurricane Sandy, she said.
U.S. gasoline demand sank to an eight-month low in the week ended Nov. 9 after Hurricane Sandy disrupted travel and the distribution of fuel supplies on the East Coast, according to data from MasterCard Inc.
Drivers bought 8.39 million barrels a day of gasoline in the week ended Nov. 9, down from 8.46 million the prior week, MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report showed.
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 13.65 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $2.7101 a gallon in the past two weeks amid concern damage from the storm would reduce supplies around New York Harbor, the contract’s delivery point.
Sandy, which went ashore Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, New Jersey, shut refineries and terminals in the New York metropolitan area, curbing gasoline production and the distribution of supplies through the Northeast.
Fuel was offered for as much as $8 a gallon on Craigslist in the New York area while drivers there were forced to wait in hours-long lines to fuel up.
AAA, the nation’s largest motoring group, said 80 percent to 85 percent of gas stations in New York City and Long Island sold gas Nov. 15, the highest level since the storm hit.
Regular gasoline on Long Island averaged about $4.18 a gallon, up 26.16 cents since Nov. 2, Lundberg said.
Total U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell 440,000 barrels to 201.9 million in the week ended Nov. 9 after four consecutive weekly increases, Energy Department data show. On the East Coast, supplies dropped 1.54 million barrels to 45.1 million, a four-year low.
Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.81 a gallon, down 20 cents, Lundberg said.
The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in Long Island, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Memphis, where customers paid an average of $3.04 a gallon.