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U.S. retail gas prices holding steady

AAA: Gas prices stuck in a holding pattern with no clear direction for the oil market.

By Daniel J. Graeber
U.S. retail gas prices holding steady
Low demand and high oil production leaves U.S. retail gasoline prices in a relative holding pattern, motor club AAA finds. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI... | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. retail gasoline prices are holding steady as the broader energy market is stuck in a tug-of-war of oil production trends, a report from AAA finds.

The motor club's survey of retail filling stations nation-wide finds a national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.27, down a fraction of a percent from the previous day and less than a penny lower than one week ago.

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"Pump prices have been pressured higher overall due to cuts in oil production globally, but increased U.S. production and low demand has led to a leveling out of prices over the last couple of weeks," AAA said in its weekly market report.

Crude oil prices have stayed around the range of $55 per barrel for weeks as the broader market balances out as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries move forward with managed declines at the same time that U.S. shale oil producers recover after last year's slump.

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Apart from that, the latest federal data show U.S. gasoline demand last month was 6 percent lower than last year and at its lowest rate since 2012.

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By region, the West Coast remains the most expensive market in the country, a problem exacerbated by tight supplies and unplanned outages at a refinery in northern California. Among the Lower 48 states, California has the highest gas prices in the country at $2.83 per gallon.

According to AAA, the price point for the West Coast could move higher as regional refiners start making preparations for seasonal maintenance.

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States in the Great Lakes region, meanwhile, continue their trend as the most volatile in the country. Double-digit percentage point swings higher or lower are common and the area may be on the cusp of a steady drop in retail prices as gasoline stocks build against low regional demand.

A federal report from January forecasts a national average price for retail gasoline of $2.31 for the first quarter of the year. By AAA's estimate, gasoline prices are still 52 cents more per gallon than they were one year ago.

RELATED Gas prices last year were the lowest in 12 years

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