The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline slipped by half a cent last week to finish at $2.65, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. Month over month, the price is up by 12 cents a gallon and about 26 cents a gallon higher year over year. Last month the national average was $2.534, while the year-ago average was $2.397.
Crude oil prices fell more than 4% last week as traders tried to gauge the impact of a possible trade war on oil prices. In general, if a trade war materializes, economic activity is expected to shrink and so will demand for crude.
U.S. crude oil inventories dropped by 4.6 million barrels last week and gasoline inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels. Both would typically boost crude prices, but not this time. Seasonal maintenance and turnaround to summer-grade fuel is nearly complete and should no longer be a significant factor in pump prices.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:
As markets have seen concern rise of a possible trade war between the U.S. and China, oil prices have been hit hard, leading gas prices to dramatically slow their recent ascent. While the pause button may be hit for the time being on the spring surge, it is still likely we’ll see prices advance again soon. Thankfully, the bulk of refinery maintenance is likely behind us, but keep in mind the volatility of the stock market has had a major influence on gas prices in the last year, so we may still be susceptible to sudden and dramatic change in U.S. policy and also susceptible to any lingering maintenance at the large refineries.
According to GasBuddy, states where prices moved most last week were: Michigan (down 12 cents); Utah (up 10 cents); Ohio and Idaho (up seven cents); Arizona (up five cents); New Mexico and Nevada (up three cents); Louisiana (down three cents); Kentucky (up three cents); and Alaska (up two cents).
States with the lowest average prices last week included: Missouri ($2.35); Arkansas ($2.37); Oklahoma and Mississippi ($2.39); Texas ($2.41); Louisiana and South Carolina ($2.42); Alabama ($2.43); Kansas ($2.45); and Tennessee ($2.46).
The highest average prices per gallon last week were reported from California ($3.51); Hawaii ($3.47); Washington ($3.16); Alaska ($3.12); Oregon and Nevada ($3.05); Pennsylvania ($2.88); Utah and Idaho ($2.85); and New York ($2.76).
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for May delivery traded up about 2% Monday afternoon at $63.32, while Brent for June delivery traded at $68.42. The price differential (spread) between WTI and Brent crude rose by 41 cents to $5.10 a barrel week over week.