"We're on the verge of real relief," Oil Price Information Service chief analyst Tom Kloza said. "We need to bury, at least for now, the notion of $4 gasoline and the notion that we just keep marching higher."
AAA said Wednesday the average U.S. retail regular unleaded gasoline price was $3.197 a gallon, down 0.4 cents from Tuesday's $3.201 a gallon. Prices fell about a penny since last week.
Pump prices follow wholesale prices, and those have been dropping, Kloza said.
But despite the drop, the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Agency says the average price remains 34.2 cents higher than it was a year ago, USA Today reported.
The record highs this month were a result of problems and unexpectedly lengthy maintenance at some U.S. refineries, which tightened fuel supplies just ahead of heavy demand from warm-weather vacation driving, the newspaper said.
Prices will likely continue to fall, at least for a while, Kloza said -- unless a hurricane damages refineries, as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did in 2005.
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