WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- An abundant supply of crude oil means U.S. motorists could continue to enjoy the economic benefits of lower retail gasoline prices, market analysis find.
Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $1.99 for Tuesday, a fraction of a percent higher than Monday. Retail gasoline prices have been relatively stable, with Tuesday's price about 0.4 percent lower than one week ago and 2.4 percent, or about 5 cents, less than one month ago.
AAA calculates U.S. consumers paid $2.40 per gallon on average last year, the lowest full-year average since 2009.
"Market fundamentals are positioned to continue to support consumer savings in 2016, though retail averages are likely to increase leading up to the summer driving season as seasonal refinery maintenance gets underway this spring," it said in a weekly retail market report.
Refinery issues, triggered in part by higher demand, caused retail price spikes in the Great Lakes states during the summer. Lower winter demand usually means a more stable retail market and the average savings for the consumer becomes less pronounced.
On the sector side, AAA said "oversupply currently characterizes the domestic oil market," as soft demand has yet to take up much of the crude oil still in storage. On the global stage, prices could face pressure from geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, though that could be buffered by emerging signs of weakness in the Asian economy.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration in a mid-December report said it expected a full-year 2016 average price at the pump of $2.36 per gallon.