Largest Gas Price Increase for July in More Than Dozen Years

Gas prices expected to stay relatively flat through Labor Day, says AAA

MIAMI-- National average gasoline prices increased 5.1% or 17 cents a gallon over the course of July, said AAA. This was the first monthly increase since March and the largest increase for the month of July going back to at least 2000, when AAA's records begin. And AAA said it expects gasoline prices to stay relatively flat through Labor Day.

"Drivers nationwide saw prices reverse in July after three months of steady declines at the pump," said Avery Ash, AAA spokesperson. "Higher global oil prices and increased demand for gasoline during the busy summer driving season were the primary factors that sent pump prices higher in July."

The national average price of gasoline in July was $3.42 a gallon. This was the third-highest average price for July ever recorded.

National average gasoline prices increased 26 days in July after reaching a summertime low of $3.326 a gallon on July 2.

Gasoline prices this July increased faster than in July 2011, when prices increased 4.4% or 15.7 cents a gallon. July gasoline prices have increased during five of the previous 10 years.

The average price of gasoline in 2012 is $3.61 a gallon, which is slightly more than the average of $3.54 through July in 2011. The average price of gasoline over the previous five years is $3.04 a gallon.

The main factors influencing retail gasoline in July included rising crude and ethanol prices, geopolitical concerns in the Middle East and mixed economic news surrounding the global economy.

Gasoline prices in August historically have declined seven out of the previous 10 years. AAA predicted that gasoline prices for August likely will remain relatively flat or may even experience a small increase for the first time since 2009. Gasoline prices should begin to fall soon after Labor Day as the summer driving season ends, demand declines and refineries transition to less expensive fuel blends.

"Drivers will continue to face high pump prices in the weeks ahead as the summer draws to a close," said Ash. "Relief fortunately may be around the corner as we expect gas prices to drop this fall."

Market developments that could alter the August forecast include news indicating a strengthening or worsening of the global economy; U.S. unemployment data; European sovereign debt-developments; the Atlantic hurricane season; and geopolitical events in the Middle East, among others.

For July 31, 2012, the national average price of regular gasoline is $3.50 a gallon, which is 1.4 cents more than yesterday, 2.3 cents more than a week ago, 20.7 cents less than a year ago and 43.6 cents less than the 2012 peak seen on April 5 and 6.

The five states with the highest prices include Hawaii ($4.148), Alaska ($3.995), Connecticut ($3.818), California ($3.802) and New York ($3.767). The five states with the lowest prices include: South Carolina ($3.202), Mississippi ($3.241), Alabama ($3.254), Arizona ($3.270), and Arkansas ($3.276).

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AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report offers average national, state and local retail prices for gasoline, diesel and E85. Every day, it surveys up to 120,000 stations based on credit-card swipes and direct feeds in cooperation with the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and Wright Express. All average retail prices in this report are for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline.