June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. consumer demand isn't strong enough to match refinery output, leaving gas prices relatively stable as summer travel season kicks in, AAA reported.
The motor club reported a national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.37 for Tuesday, down a fraction of a percent from the previous day, and more or less unchanged from last week. Compared with a month ago, the price at the pump is about a half percent higher. Gas prices on this date in 2016 were lower by only 0.4 percent, or about a penny.
Wide swings in some markets skewed the national average price somewhat as AAA said retail gasoline prices dropped in 60 percent of the U.S. states.
The West Coast remains the most expensive market in the country, with California posting the highest state average in the nation with $3.09 per gallon. In its weekly market report, the motor club said gasoline storage levels are 1.3 million barrels lower than last year because of maintenance work at refineries in the north of the state. Imports provided a buffer, but AAA said the market could see gas prices continue to go up until regional refineries can resume normal activity.
The Great Lakes market lived up to its reputation as the most volatile market in the country. The state average price in Michigan of $2.48 per gallon is up 2.4 percent from last week, though prices at the pump are moderating in the wake of the surge in demand that corresponded with the long Memorial Day weekend. Illinois gas prices, meanwhile, are down 1.6 percent from last week to $2.39 per gallon and are lower than this date last year by 5 percent.
AAA attributed the trend to the regional swings to supply and demand.
"The trend continues into June," the report read. "While the region saw a moderate level of gasoline inventory draws last week, it appears demand is not consistent and this is causing fluctuation across the region."
The trend in the Great Lakes is consistent with the national scene. Gasoline demand is somewhat higher than last year, but refineries are working overtime and leaving a lot of product in storage.