Retailers Squeezed

Pump price edges up, but end in sight, says Lundberg

Gas Station (CSP Daily News Convenience Store Petroleum)

CAMARILLO, Calif. --The U.S. average retail price of regular grade gasoline jumped another 4.93 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, to $3.6065, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations. This is eight straight weeks of rises, amounting to 31.21 cents per gallon since Feb. 7.

There is no shortage of either crude or gasoline, but the pump price rose anyway, due mostly to these four magnets: much stronger gasoline demand versus a year ago; Reid vapor pressure (RVP) maxiumums lowered per seasonal requirements, adding cost as refiners phase in summer blend around the country; ethanol prices, while much lower, are still elevated from what they were a month ago; and domestic light-grade benchmark crude West Texas Intermediate (WTI) increased modestly.

Assuming no supply crunch for crude or gasoline, the average street price seems likely to rise further over the next several days, but not dramatically. Another pull on the retail price is the unhappy state of retail regular-grade margin. It dropped again, this time by just over two cents per gallon, to a narrow 10.25 cents.

Pressure on retailers to recover margin is mounting.

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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