Americans Get Relief at the Pumps Ahead of July 4 Road Trips

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Retail gasoline prices are falling in the U.S. just in time for Americans to take to the roads in record numbers for the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

The average for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps declined 1.68 cents in the two weeks ended June 26 to $2.8494 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc. It was the first time since mid-April that prices have fallen in the survey, which is based on information from about 2,500 filling stations. Gasoline is 86 cents lower than a year ago.

Prices dropped as U.S. refiners produced the most gasoline for this time of year since at least 1983, increasing stockpiles of the fuel for two straight weeks. It’s welcome relief for the record number of Americans projected by AAA to be planning road trips over the July 4 weekend.

“I expect pump prices will continue to drift down from here,” Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey, said Sunday in a telephone interview. There are multiple reasons for the downward pressure, including “flush supply,” she said.

The highest price for gasoline in the lower 48 states among the markets surveyed was in San Diego, at $3.52 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Jackson, Mississippi, where customers paid an average $2.44 a gallon. Regular gasoline averaged $2.96 a gallon on Long Island, New York, and $3.50 in Los Angeles.

Road Trips

About 35.5 million people will drive 50 miles or more from home during the five days ending July 5, an increase from 35.3 million last year and the most since at least 2000, the Heathrow, Florida-based motoring club AAA said Thursday. A total of 41.9 million Americans will travel using all modes of transportation, the most since 2007.

Refiners gearing up for the peak of the summer driving season boosted their gasoline production by 2.9 percent in the week ended June 19, the highest for that period since at least 1983, Energy Information Administration data show. Stockpiles rose 1.14 million barrels in the two weeks ended June 19 to 218.5 million.

Gasoline futures dropped 3.4 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange to $2.0485 a gallon in the two weeks to June 26. West Texas Intermediate oil futures fell 33 cents to $59.63 a barrel.

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