Gasoline Prices Rise to $2.32 a Gallon

The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose over the past three weeks, but at a slower pace and could be poised for a reversal in coming weeks, according to a leading industry analyst.

The national average for self-serve, regular, unleaded gas was $2.32 a gallon on Jan. 5, up nearly 3 cents per gallon since mid-December, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey
of about 7,000 gas stations.

The pace of the rise in average gasoline prices slowed to about 1 cent per week, according to the most recent survey. Prices had been rising more quickly since the post-summer decline bottomed out at about $2.18 a gallon on Nov. 3, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.

The recent drop in crude oil prices is being passed on to wholesale customers, including distributors, Lundberg said. "We can already see in some locations these wholesale price cuts
being passed on to retailers."

The wholesale price of unbranded gasoline in the Midwest was down 16 cents a gallon, Lundberg said.

However, she noted that the trickle down to retailers can be reversed if crude oil prices do not remain down at current levels.

Consumers could begin to see a decline in gasoline prices at the pumps as long as harsher winter weather does not suddenly appear, and as long as OPEC lacks the discipline to enforce its own production cuts, Lundberg said.

"That pass through of lower crude oil prices would continue and accelerate and we could see a drop of 5 cents to 10 cents per gallon at the pump in the very near future," Lundberg said.

At $2.84 per gallon, Honolulu, Hawaii, had the highest average price for self-serve, regular, unleaded gas in the nation on Jan. 5. The lowest price of $2.09 a gallon could be found in Cheyenne, Wyoming.