U.S. retail gasoline prices remain stable

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While retail gasoline prices are considerably higher than year-ago levels, they remain far below the national average of $5.02 per gallon from June. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 14 (UPI) — U.S. retail gasoline prices remain stuck in a holding pattern, with motor club AAA listing a national average price of $3.77 per gallon for Monday.

Monday’s national average price is only about 3 cents lower than this time last week and more or less unchanged from the weekend. High state taxes mean California has the highest average in the Lower 48 states at $5.43 per gallon, while Texas has the lowest average in the nation at $3.11 per gallon.

California’s weekly trends have followed those at the national level, though the state average is a good 11% lower than one month ago. The national average price is only 3% lower than month-ago levels.

Planned and unplanned maintenance at the nation’s refineries has created volatile conditions for drivers. The U.S. Energy Department reported that national refineries were operating at 92.1% of their operating capacity during the week ending Nov. 4, compared with 89.9% during a similar period in October.

Production of gasoline and distillates, a refined petroleum product that includes diesel, both increased during the first week of November, a reversal from one month ago.

But even with the uptick in production, inventories of gasoline are 6% below the five-year average for this time of year, suggesting demand is outpacing supplies. Crude oil prices, however, are behind the bulk of what consumers see at the pump and the price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, has trended lower.

The U.S. Energy Department estimates that Brent crude oil prices will come in at $102.13 per barrel for the full-year average, but decline to $95.33 for next year. Brent was in the mid-$90 range during the trading day Monday.

Energy prices are still relatively high and contributing to a spike in consumer inflation. The gasoline component of the U.S. Consumer Price Index posted its first increase since June last month and prices at the pump are 17.5% higher over the12-month period ending in October.

Gasoline prices should average $4.02 for the full year, but dip to $3.61 per gallon for the 2023 average. An all-time high of $5.02 was set in June.

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