WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- The steady streak of increases in the U.S. average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is tapering off, a review from motor club AAA finds.
AAA reports a national average retail price of $2.45 per gallon. That's down a fraction of a cent from Monday's price, which marked a formal end to the 40-day streak in price increases.
U.S. gasoline prices fell in parallel with oil prices last year. A record-breaking streak in falling prices at the pump ended in late January when prices started to move above the floor price of $2.04 per gallon nationally. Oil prices at the end of January also reached their historic bottom and started to move back above the $50 per barrel mark.
U.S. refineries at the beginning of February start a regular maintenance period as they shift from producing a winter blend of gasoline to a summer blend, which is more expensive to produce because of steps needed to prevent vaporization during warmer weather. A refinery fire in California added further pressure to gasoline prices.
More than a month after the refinery maintenance period began, U.S. motorists are starting to see price trends reverse, notably in the West Coast market.
"Drivers are finally getting a break from the big rise in gasoline prices," Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with pricewatcher GasBuddy.com, said in a separate statement. "Gas prices have finally starting to cool off after coming into March like a lion -- we can only hope they go out like a lamb."
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $2.19 one month ago and $3.49 on this date in 2014. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts a full-year national average price of $2.33 per gallon, more than $1 less than last year.