The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell 5.56 cents a gallon in the past two weeks to $3.7394 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.
The survey covers the period ended March 8 and is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The average has risen about 48 cents since Dec. 21, 2012, and is about 8 cents below the year-earlier price of $3.8148 a gallon.
“After nine weeks of prices increasing we have a drop,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a phone interview. “We can expect more price cutting in the future, possibly more than a dime.”
“Both refinery margins on gasoline and retailer margins on gasoline appear healthy enough to allow for further price cuts,” she said.
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 12.39 cents, or 4 percent, to $3.2035 a gallon in the past two weeks. Futures have climbed 14 percent this year, making gasoline the second-best performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities after cotton.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell 616,000 barrels in the week ended March 1 to 227.9 million, the lowest level in nine weeks, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Refineries ran at 82.2 percent of capacity, the lowest level since March, amid breakdowns and seasonal plant maintenance.
West Texas Intermediate oil on the Nymex fell $1.18, or 1.3 percent, to $91.95 a barrel in the two weeks to March 8. Prices have climbed 13 cents this year.
Crude inventories rose 3.83 million barrels in the week ended March 1 to 381.4 million, the highest level since June, according to data from the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistics arm. Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the Nymex futures contract, climbed 257,000 barrels to 50.8 million.
Oil may fall this week after weaker demand from refineries boosted U.S. crude inventories to the highest level in eight months, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Seventeen of 37 analysts, or 46 percent, forecast crude will drop through March 15. Thirteen respondents, or 35 percent, predicted a gain. Seven said there would be little change. Last week, 57 percent of analysts projected a decrease.
The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in Los Angeles, where the average was $4.23 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Billings, Montana, where customers paid an average of $3.31 a gallon.
Regular gasoline on Long Island, New York, averaged $3.97 a gallon, according to Lundberg.