Pain at the pump subsiding, AAA says

Market watching Middle East, Russia.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Aug. 5, 2014 at 9:02 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States is below the $3.50 mark for the first time since March, motor club AAA says.

AAA reports the national average price of $3.49 per gallon for Tuesday is lowest national average for this date in four years. Tuesday's average price was unchanged from the previous day, though the average price at the pump has fallen steadily for about a month.

A flare-up in violence in Libya and a Sunni insurgency in Iraq means supplies from two members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may be at risk. Libyan oil production, however, remains at historic lows while the Iraqi government said July exports were higher than the previous month.

AAA said prices at the pump may be influenced by crises in the Middle East and North Africa, though "special attention" was warranted for the situation with Russia.

The U.S. and European governments issued targeted sanctions in July against the Russian energy sector, including oil company Rosneft. "Some have suggested that the latest prohibitions eventually could impact the global supply of crude oil by denying exports of oil industry equipment and restricting Russian state-owned banks from accessing European capital markets," a Monday briefing from AAA read.

Gasoline prices for this date in 2013 averaged $3.61 per gallon. For Tuesday, South Carolina set the low-water mark with $3.21 per gallon, while California drivers paid the most in the Lower 48 at $3.95.

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