Drivers, Rejoice! Expect 'Significantly Lower' Gas Prices
Chalk up the decline in gas prices to a divergence between gas and crude oil, Iuorio explained. Over the past month, gas has dropped some 5 percent, while crude oil has gained about 5 percent. In January, gasoline prices skyrocketed following an array of refining and maintenance issues while the price of oil fell. The move was highly unusual, so now the markets are seeing what's called a mean reversion, meaning prices are returning to the mean or average.
In addition, a government report said U.S. crude oil inventories grew to their highest level since 1990. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported crude stocks rose 2.71 million barrels last week. The rise was slightly more than the build of 2.2 million barrels expected in a Reuters survey of analysts and put U.S. commercial inventories at 388.62 million barrels, the most since 1990 and close to the record 391.9 million barrels reached in 1982, the year the EIA started tracking inventories.
To pro trader Anthony Grisanti, the declining gasoline prices is all about demand, noting it dropped off at the onset of the financial crisis in fall 2008 and has failed to pick up, even as the economy shows some signs of improvement.
"I think the reason why is because the fuel efficiency of vehicles on the road," said Grisanti, founder of GRZ Energy. "And the demand for gas won't pick up for that reason alone."
Grisanti said more Americans are driving fuel efficient vehicles, meaning less demand for fuel. During the Great Recession, consumers avoided purchasing new cars. When today's drivers are forced to make a new purchase, however, they're buying cars that use less gas.
Jeff Kilburg of KKM Financial agreed that the onset of fuel efficient vehicles is a gasoline demand killer.
"The retail gas buyer is rethinking why am I paying $500 a month for my current gas car when I can go the Tesla route," Kilburg said, referring to the electric cars made by Tesla Motors, which recently announced a partnership with Wells Fargo and US Bancorp on a financing product that it says will make its pricey electric sedan accessible to more people. "Gas prices could indeed creep down as demand is going away. Not a huge drop in demand as they only have sold 4,500 cars thus far but, the new financing could ignite some serious sales."
(Read More: Tesla Unveils Leasing)
In turn, Iuorio thinks gasoline futures could soon test the $2.90 level. If it breaks through that level, though, he said drivers could enjoy "significantly lower gas prices going into the summer." To trade it, he said he plans to establish a short position in the May gas futures contract at $2.95 with a target of $2.90.
Read on for 10 Things You Need to Know to Trade Futures