US Retail Gasoline Prices Hit 11-Week Low

U.S. drivers found more relief at the pump as the national price for gasoline dropped to its lowest level in 11 weeks, the government said on Monday.

Gas Pump
Mark Lennihan
Gas Pump

The price for regular, unleaded gasoline declined 7.5 cents over the last week to an average $3.88 a gallon, the federal Energy Information Administration said in its weekly survey of service stations.

That is cheapest pump price since May 19, but still up $1.04 from a year ago, the EIA said.

Prices hit a record of $4.11 on July 7 but have been dropping since due to lower gasoline demand and cheaper crude oil costs, which are being passed on to consumers at the pump.

Crude oil futures at the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday fell at one point below $120 a barrel for the first time since early May, and way below the record $147 reached just over three weeks ago.

Every $1 decline in the price of oil equals about a 2.4-cent drop in the price for a gallon of gasoline.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday proposed lowering gasoline prices in the short term by selling some 70 million barrels of crude oil held in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Such a move would get more supplies on the market, which in turn, would hopefully cut fuel costs.

Obama previously opposed releasing oil from the emergency stockpile, except for supply emergencies. It is unclear if refiners would want to buy any of the government's crude because there are no supply shortages. (See accompanying video for more on Obama's statement ...)

In the EIA's weekly survey, gasoline was the most expensive on the West Coast at $4.14 a gallon, down 10.5 cents. San Francisco had the highest big city price at $4.26, down 9.4 cents.

The Gulf Coast had the lowest regional price at $3.77 a gallon, down 9.1 cents. Cleveland had the lowest pump price, down 6.5 cents at $3.72.

The EIA also reported gasoline prices were down 11.8 cents at $4.22 in Los Angeles, down 8.8 cents at $4.11 in Seattle, down 6.2 cents at $4.02 in Chicago, down 7 cents at $3.99 in New York City, down 6.9 cents at $3.98 in Miami, down 6.3 cents at $3.89 in Denver and down 10.2 cents at $3.73 in Houston.

Separately, the average price paid for diesel fuel dropped 10.1 cents to $4.50 a gallon, up $1.60 from a year ago, the EIA said.

The New England states had the most expensive diesel at $4.74 a gallon, down 7.1 cents. The Midwest had the cheapest fuel at $4.42, down 9.9 cents.