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Gasoline Prices Level Out After Peaking, May Drift Lower

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Gasoline prices across the United States have started to drift lower after rising early last week, with the national average at $2.35 per gallon, the same as it was a week ago. Oil prices, however, saw little change last week until Friday, when they fell under $49 per barrel as concern about Venezuela and North Korea eased, and as gasoline inventories in the U.S. saw a large rise.

Data last week from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a drop of 6.5 million barrels in crude oil inventories, a larger drop than was anticipated by analysts, bringing total inventories to their lowest since October 2016. Inventories have continued to plunge from their peak of 536 million barrels in late-March to the present level of 475 million barrels. Gasoline inventories, however, posted a gain of 3.4 million barrels, a larger rise than was expected, and helped to temper the mood after the large drop in oil inventories.

States with the largest weekly increase in average prices versus a week ago: Idaho (+8 cents), Wyoming (+4 cents), Utah (+4 cents), Michigan (+3 cents), Arizona (+2 cents), Oregon (+2 cents), North Carolina (+2 cents), North Dakota (+2 cents), Iowa (+2 cents) and Indiana (+1 cent).

The states with the cheapest average gasoline prices are: South Carolina ($2.07), Alabama ($2.09), Mississippi ($2.10), Arkansas ($2.10), Missouri ($2.10), Oklahoma ($2.11), Tennessee ($2.13), Texas ($2.15), Louisiana ($2.16) and Virginia ($2.17).

Oil prices closed under $49 per barrel last Friday providing some breathing room for motorists and for gas prices to begin leveling off. Venezuela appeared to cool tensions by offering to talk to the Trump Administration, an offer which was quickly rejected, yet symbolic nonetheless. In addition, Baker Hughes reported on Friday the number of active oil rigs in the U.S. increased by 3 to a total of 768.

Gasoline prices will be in a bit of a holding pattern in the week ahead, with declines likely to be more commonplace than increases as gas pumps have largely caught up to the current price of crude oil. Moving forward, a new tropical disturbance off the coast of Africa bears watching but has low odds of developing into something larger at this time.

Senior Petroleum Analyst, National (USA) / Midwest

Patrick has developed into the leading source for reliable and accurate information on gas price hikes. Patrick has been interviewed as a gasoline price expert hundreds of times since 2004. Based in Chicago, Patrick brings to GasBuddy all his assets to help consumers by giving reliable and accurate price forecasts, including the San Jose Mercury News dubbing Patrick "one of the nation's most accurate forecasters" in 2012.