Gasoline prices retreat; could fall more: survey
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline prices fell sharply in the last two weeks, just below $4 a gallon, in line with retreating crude oil markets, and prices at the pump may slide further, an industry analyst said on Sunday.
The U.S. average retail price for self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline fell to $3.9959, off nearly 12 cents in the past two weeks, according to the Lundberg nationwide survey of about 7,000 gas stations.
"The crude oil market has imposed a down price correction on itself, and this oil price slide is rapidly being translated into a gasoline price correction," said survey editor Trilby Lundberg.
At $3.61 a gallon, Wichita, Kansas, had the lowest average price for self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline on July 25, while the high was $4.43 in Anchorage, Alaska.
U.S. crude oil futures ended down on Friday, hitting seven-week lows, due in part to a report saying that OPEC's oil output is expected to rise by 200,00 barrels a day in July from June because of higher supplies from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Oil has doubled in price over the past year, stoking inflation, triggering protests from Asia to Europe, and compounding the financial pain of U.S. consumers, already grappling with a depressed housing market, job uncertainty and soaring food costs.
But Lundberg said that barring a dramatic change in the global oil market, U.S. gasoline prices may soon pull back another 10 cents per gallon.
"Assuming that oil stays around its current level, that downward price correction would continue its move to the street," she said. "The lag time between wholesale price cuts and retail price response is such that some retailers have yet to receive their price cuts or have yet to pass them through."
During the dramatic price increases in recent months, refiners and retailers shouldered margin losses rather than pass the higher cost of crude to motorists. They will try to hang on to recent margin gains, but softer U.S. gasoline demand makes that very difficult, she noted.
On Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, front month crude futures CLQ8 fell more than $2 to settle at $123.26 a barrel, down about 16 percent from a record over $147 just two weeks ago.
(Reporting by Franklin Paul; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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