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Gas prices fell Monday as the destructive effects of Hurricane Irma proved not as bad as feared as the storm continued its way north into northern Florida.
Retail gasoline prices jumped 25 cents in the week that ended on Tuesday, the biggest gain since 2005's Hurricane Katrina, after Hurricane Harvey pummeled the American South, paralyzing refineries throughout the Gulf Coast. Nearly half of U.S. refining capacity is centered in the Gulf region.
Traders feared Irma would further impact the ability of gas providers to supply Florida and surrounding states adequately, causing gas prices to surge. Early futures market trading Monday indicated that wouldn't be the case.
The U.S. gasoline futures for deliveries in October declined 1.5 percent Monday morning to trade at $1.62 per gallon.
The storm was losing strength as its center moved toward the northwestern coast of the Florida Peninsula and was forecast to weaken to a tropical storm during the day and to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Goldman Sachs and others noted that Irma would still affect gasoline demand and that could be aiding the decline Monday.
"We believe that Irma will have a negative impact on oil demand but not on oil production or processing. Harvey's negative impact on demand will remain larger," said Goldman Sachs analyst Damien Courvalin.
"We tentatively estimated that Harvey's impact on demand will be -600 kb/d in the month following landfall. In the case of Irma, we expect this initial impact to be around -300 kb/d, although note that the lack of many precedents makes this estimate even more tentative."
West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 0.65 percent to trade at $47.79 per barrel.