International developments matter, analysts say, because gas prices are linked to internationally priced Brent crude. Turmoil in Ukraine and spotty supply from the perenially unstable Middle East has conspired to keep oil above $100 per barrel.
In a research note this week, analysts at Goldman Sachs called crude oil fundamentals "stable but tight," adding that most developed-economy stockpiles "remain at low levels" amid lower-than-expected output from hotspots like Libya and Iraq.
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That backdrop explains why prices at the pump have defied the gravitational pull of a litany of mitigating factors such as a more fuel-efficient U.S. car fleet, rising domestic production and a still-fragile recovery that should blunt demand.
BofA-Merrill points out that domestic oil and gas production has driven gasoline imports to near zero, while the U.S. is churning out nearly 10 million barrels a day. Despite all this, there has been little relief at the pump due largely to factors outside America's control.
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The International Energy Agency said in its most recent report that OPEC will need to increase its own production this year to sate rising demand. Meanwhile, the energy watchdog said non-OPEC production is also falling short of expectations.