U.S. retail gasoline price lowest in 6 months-Govt

Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:14pm BST

* U.S. retail gasoline price lowest since Feb. 22

* Most expensive gasoline on West Coast, Gulf Coast cheapest

* Americans traveling by car Labor Day weekend up 10.3 pct

By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - U.S. drivers are enjoying the lowest gasoline prices in six months heading into the last vacation weekend of the summer, with the pump price falling below $2.70 a gallon for the first time since late February, the Energy Department said on Monday.

The national price for regular unleaded gasoline declined 2.2 cents over the last week to $2.68 a gallon, up 7 cents from a year ago, but still the lowest since Feb. 22, the department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly survey of service stations.

Lower crude oil prices, which account for more than half the cost of making gasoline, has resulted in savings for drivers at the pump.

The lower fuel prices arrived as millions of Americans will take to the roads during this weekend's Labor Day holiday, which traditionally marks the end of the summer vacation season.

About 10.3 percent more Americans will travel by car this holiday weekend compared to last year, according to the AAA travel and auto group.

In its weekly price survey, the EIA found the West Coast had the most expensive gasoline at $3.04 a gallon, down 4.1 cents. San Francisco had the highest city price at $3.12, down 3.9 cents.

The Gulf Coast states had the lowest regional price at $2.53 a gallon, down 3.6 cents. Houston had the cheapest city pump price at $2.46, down 2.9 cents.

The agency also said gasoline prices were down 4.2 cents at $3.04 in Seattle; down 4 cents at $2.79 in Chicago; down 2 cents at $2.73 in Miami; up 4.3 cents at $2.71 in Denver; down 3.4 cents at $2.66 in New York; up 5.1 cents at $2.63 in Cleveland and down 2.9 cents at $2.62 in Boston.

Separately, the average price for diesel fuel dropped 1.9 cents to $2.94 a gallon, up 26 cents from a year ago, the EIA said.

The West Coast had the most expensive diesel at $3.10, down 1.3 cents. The Gulf Coast region had the cheapest diesel fuel at $2.89, down 2.8 cents.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)