CAMARILLO, Calif. -- After 11 weeks of decline, the U.S. average retail price of regular-grade gasoline rose 1.04 cents per gallon (CPG) in the past two weeks, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations. The July 21 price is $2.3189, and sits nearly a dime above its year-ago point.
During the two weeks, oil prices strengthened a little, due in part to a weaker dollar, and higher renewable identification number (RIN) prices helped pull gasoline prices higher.
The pressure on retail margin continues to mount. Pass-through of higher wholesale prices and of higher gasoline taxes in some states is not yet complete. Regular-grade gasoline margin was already severely crimped on July 7; now it is 1.40 CPG worse, just 13.22 cents. This is the narrowest it has been since April 7.
In several markets, retailers limped with less than a nickel margin on July 21, with many in the Gulf Coast area and elsewhere in tough straits, and some were in the red.
Meanwhile, high retail costs of doing business are not retreating.
Unless an oil price decline—a big and sudden one—does not come to the rescue and knock wholesale gasoline prices down, then retailers will have to impose street price hikes. If oil prices remain where they are, the retail price hike may be 3 to 8 cents soon; if oil prices climb, it would probably be more.
Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries.
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