U.S. average retail gasoline prices fell slightly over the last two weeks on ample supply. But as peak driving season approaches and crude oil prices gain, pump prices also are expected to rise, according to a survey conducted for Reuters.
The national average for self-serve regular unleaded gas was $1.90 a gallon on Feb. 18, down about 52 cents per gallon from Feb. 4, Reuters reported.
“This very slight decline (in gas prices) does not portend continued drops unless crude oil prices fall significantly,” Reuters quoted survey editor Trilby Lundberg as saying. “It’s more likely that gasoline prices will, sometime soon, resume rising to catch up with crude oil.”
U.S. crude oil futures rose 81 cents to top $48 a barrel at the end of last week. Today (Feb. 22), prices surpassed $51 a barrel, which combined with a weakening dollar and spotty earnings reports caused stocks to drop 174.2 points, the biggest decline since May 2003.
“If crude oil prices don’t drop, it’s likely we’ll see pump prices rise,” Lundberg told Reuters. She also reportedly said that gas prices will probably climb as the peak driving summer months get closer.
Citing the report, Reuters also said that gas prices were up around 18 cents from last year.