1 of 2 | Resurgent demand from China is pushing crude oil prices higher. As crude oil prices account for the bulk of what consumers see at the pump, gasoline prices are following suit. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. motorists are seeing the price at the gas pump move higher as the broader energy complex trades higher on the reopening of China, the world's second-largest economy.
Crude oil prices have been on the rise for much of January, rising some 8% last week. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was up 1.2% as of 9:30 a.m. EST Tuesday to touch $81 per barrel, it's highest since early December.
The rally was supported by the annual reading of Chinese GDP, which at 3% for 2022 was among its worst since the 1970s, but still better than expected.
Continuing from last week, the rally is finding its way to the consumer level.
Travel club AAA put the national average retail price at $3.32 per gallon for Tuesday, about 17 cents higher than a month ago. Demand at home, meanwhile, remains suppressed, likely due to rising inflation and improved gas mileage.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, showed the total amount of refined petroleum products sent to the market through the week ending Jan. 5, a figure used as a proxy for demand, was down 4.3% from the same period last year.
California has the highest average in the Lower 48 states at $4.43 per gallon. Mississippi, close to the dense network of refineries in the southern United States, has the lowest price at $2.93, though a handful of states along the Gulf Coast boast state averages below $3 per gallon.
EIA put the national average at $3.97 per gallon for 2022 and expects the average to be around $3.30 per gallon this year, though prices during the summer could be in the $4 range on the back of increased travel.