Gasoline prices hold steady as markets balance between supply and demand, a weekly retail snapshot from AAA said. File Photo by Eduardo Sverdlin/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- Retail gasoline prices in the United States remain relatively stable as markets tilt toward balance, though motor club AAA said that could end come summer.
AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.20 for Tuesday, slightly less than the previous day and 0.7 percent, or 2 cents, lower than one week ago.
Prices started moving higher in the spring as refineries made the shift to a summer blend of gasoline, which is more expensive to produce because of additional environmental safeguards. As one blend moved out of the market and the other moved in, market dynamics became skewed.
"The national average price of gas declined slightly on the week, and it is possible that prices have begun to stabilize as refineries increase production to meet record-high demand," the motor club said in its weekly market report.
Gregg Laskoski, a senior analyst with GasBuddy, said the leveling in retail prices at the pump may be reflecting balanced pressures in the crude oil market.
"Since February, retail gasoline has consistently mirrored the movement of West Texas Intermediate crude oil, with each increase followed by a short plateau and that appears to be where we are today," he said in a statement emailed to UPI.
Crude oil prices have remained relatively flat near the $40 range for much of the late spring as supply strains balance against signs the U.S. economy is slowing down. Data last week from the U.S. Labor Department showed employment uneven across many economic sectors.
Consumers, nevertheless, are taking advantage of lower gasoline prices, which are 17 percent, or 45 cents, less than this date in 2015. AAA said gasoline demand is "well above" what it was at this time last year.
This demand, the motor club said, has yet to put a crimp on gasoline supplies, meaning retail prices should remain relatively stable in the short term.
"Lower gas prices are contributing to drivers taking to the roads at record levels and the 2016 summer driving season is expected to rival 2007 when gasoline demand hit an all-time high," it cautioned.
Oklahoma had the lowest state average price at $1.95 per gallon.