Refiner Margin Takes Hit; Retail Margin on the Mend

Retail gasoline price turns upward, says Lundberg

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- After crashing for nearly three months, the U.S. retail regular grade gasoline price is now up 6.68 cents per gallon over the past three weeks, to $3.3247, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.

The average price declined 57.96 cents per gallon since Oct. 5 before bottoming out on December 21 at $3.2579.

It is crude oil that ended the crash, as the near-month futures market price of the main U.S. benchmark WTI rose 11.67 cents per gallon equivalent during the same three-week period. Refiners running West Texas Intermediate (WTI) have passed through less than half of the increase they received. So refiners suffered a margin loss on gasoline and will be under pressure to complete the oil price hike passthrough.

Unlike refiner margin on gasoline, retail margin recovered some during the past three weeks; there remains upward pressure on retail gasoline margin.

If crude oil prices neither rise nor fall significantly in the near future, then retail gasoline prices will likely trend up a few more pennies due to downstream margin recovery.

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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