U.S. gas prices slip 4 cents to $2.48/gln: survey

NEW YORK Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:36pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States slipped 4 cents over the past two weeks as lower demand due to high unemployment offset a rise in crude prices, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey, released on Sunday.

The average price for a gallon of self-serve, regular, unleaded gas was $2.48 on October 9, down 4 cents from $2.52 on September 25, the Lundberg survey said.

The average price was about 83 cents lower than a year earlier, according to the survey, which evaluates prices at about 5,000 gas stations around the country.

The latest decline in gas prices came even as crude oil prices rose during the two-week period. The November crude oil futures contract settled on Friday, October 9, at $71.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- up $5.75, or up 8.7 percent, from its close at $66.02 on the previous Friday, which was September 25.

"Unemployment is still getting worse and that is the main reason demand for gasoline is so poor," survey publisher Trilby Lundberg said, noting not as many people are driving to work.

"Absent an oil market event that could really raise the price of crude, I think further drops at the pump are quite likely," she continued.

Lundberg said demand is likely to be hurt further by the end of Daylight Saving Time on November 1, poor weather and consumers' view that the discount on gasoline prices seen in recent months is starting to disappear.

The drop in demand is likely to pull at the margins for gasoline refiners, who are struggling with higher crude prices and no pricing power at the pump, Lundberg said.

Of the cities Lundberg surveyed, Cheyenne, Wyoming, had the lowest gas prices with an average of $2.16 per gallon, while Anchorage, Alaska, had the highest prices at an average of $3.23 per gallon.

(Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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