Have Gasoline Prices Bottomed?

Gasoline futures settled in New York at the highest price in nearly two months, surging over 20 cents in July alone.


August RBOB gasoline futures gained nearly 1.5 percent and closed above $2.85 a gallon on Monday, mirroring the climb in oil prices as the U.S. dollar weakened and tensions rose in the Middle East.

Some analysts suggest the slide toward a $3.00 retail gasoline may have permanently stalled. Retail gasoline prices often follow the trend in the futures market within a week or so, analysts say.

The national average for regular self-serve gasoline is $3.40 a gallon, up 2 cents from a week ago, according to AAA.

While a few areas in the Southeast have sub-$3.00 gas, along the East and West Coasts prices are well over $3.50 a gallon.

"I don't see prices going lower. Retail demand has been picking up and supplies are low," says Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy.

Refineries are also processing fuel at higher rates than is the norm for this time of year. "Refinery utilization is at 92.7 percent of capacity, which is much higher than normal," Armstrong says. "Usually this time of year it's about 89.5 percent."

On average, retail gasoline prices are 10 cents lower than they were a month ago and 27 cents lower than this time last year. So there's still a bit of relief left.

But judging from the price rise in the futures market, consumers will find the respite from high gas prices may not last much longer.

-By CNBC's Sharon Epperson
Follow Sharon on Twitter: @sharon_epperson