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Gasoline Prices Climb on Anniversary of All-Time High

The national average for gasoline hit a four-week high at the pump Tuesday, and it's likely those lows of June will stay in the rearview mirror until later in the year.

OPIS analyst Tom Kloza points out today's date has been an important one for the gasoline market. It is the four-year anniversary of the highest retail gasoline and diesel prices ever, at $4.11 and $4.84 respectively.

This summer's lows were probably seen in late June, and today's $3.40 per gallon for unleaded is the highest since June 25.

"We backed off to $3.33 in the end of June, and I think that's it until after Labor Day," he said. Kloza said gasoline could get back below $3, but not until the fall months.

"I think we'll tread around here for most of the summer, and then I think the bias is lower after Sept. 15," he said. At that point, refineries will not have to make the more difficult summer blend, and supply should increase and demand should ease.

The story for diesel, however, is likely to be different. Diesel is currently $3.69 per gallon. Both diesel and gasoline have gained two cents in the past week, according to AAA.

"Diesel is the toughest molecule to make right now in the world because you have to remove so much sulfur and it's the product that has the highest growth rate," Kloza said. "...If you look at the rest of the world, they're not clamoring for gasoline, they're clamoring for diesel."

Kloza's note on gas prices is below:

U.S. GAS PRICES RETAKE $3.40 GAL, TODAY MARKS HIGH TIDE ANNIVERSARY DATE

Today is a key anniversary date for U.S. motor fuel prices. The all-time high water mark for the national average regular unleaded price was achieved on this day in 2008 when the price topped out at $4.1144 gal. Diesel prices also hit their all time nationwide high on that day, with an average price of $4.8448 gal.

More recently, the 2012 national average moved to $3.4064 gal last night, as compiled by OPIS for AAA in cooperation with Wright Express. More than 120,000 unique sites are surveyed in the OPIS retail sample. This is the first time that the national average price has been above $3.40 gal since June 25, when prices were on the way down from an early April $3.93 gal high.

Most states show year-on-year declines, and today’s national number is 26.93cts gal below the price on the same day last year. States such as Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi find decreases of about 40cts gal from same day 2011. Colorado’s average price of $3.5596 gal is 5.26cts gal above July 17, 2011; Utah is 3.2cts gal higher; and Hawaii is some 13.44cts gal higher than last year at $4.1946 gal.

Back in historic 2008, some 37 states reached their all time high numbers for regular unleaded within 30 days of the July 17 date. In subsequent years, we’ve seen unleaded regular average $2.4813 gal on July 17, 2009; $2.7247 gal on this day in 2010; and $3.6757 gal on same day 2011.

Based on recent consumption patterns, OPIS estimates that Americans are spending about $1.276-billion on motor fuel each day recently. On this day in 2008, the approximate expense was $1.615-billion thanks to higher numbers, and also higher consumption. By 2009, the mid-July daily expense fell to $955-million, but advanced to $1.039-billion in 2010; and $1.392-billion per day on July 17, 2011.

For details on individual states or metropolitan statistical areas, visit the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report at www.fuelgauge.com.

Follow Patti Domm on Twitter: @pattidomm.

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  • Patti Domm

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