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U.S. gasoline prices staying lower for longer

The price at the pump remains unchanged from week-ago levels, but at $3.53 is 20 cents higher than the government forecast for the full year. File photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI
1 of 2 | The price at the pump remains unchanged from week-ago levels, but at $3.53 is 20 cents higher than the government forecast for the full year. File photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI | License Photo

May 15 (UPI) -- Retail gasoline prices in the U.S. economy are at a standstill with the national average unchanged from week-ago levels, but still above the government's forecast for the year, data Monday show.

Travel club AAA put the national average retail price at $3.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline for Monday, unchanged from this time last week. Data over the coming weeks should reveal the extent of any surge in travel demand due to Mother's Day.

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The price that consumers pay for gasoline is largely a reflection of crude oil prices, which have remained stable over the last week. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was trading near $75 per barrel on Monday, down only about a half percent from the close of trading one week ago.

Banking woes and concerns over the U.S. debt ceiling have been balanced by healthy demand to keep the market static.

Data from the Energy Department showed the total amount of motor gasoline supplied to the market over the four-week period ending May 5, a proxy for implied demand for fuel, was up 2% from year-ago levels, suggesting consumers are unfazed by broader economic headwinds.

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Demand figures, meanwhile, could be skewed by the growing number of electric vehicles on the road. Many of those vehicles could be eligible for sweeping tax incentives outlined in last year's bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act.

"We project that EV purchase prices will continue to decrease and that most EVs with less than a 150-mile driving range could reach purchase price parity with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles by 2029," the Energy Information Administration, part of the Energy Department, reported.

That would crimp fuel demand and potentially curb prices.

EIA is expecting a full-year average of $3.33 per gallon, though prices would move higher assuming demand holds up during the summer holiday travel season, which ends in September.

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