Sandy Contributed Regional Kick in Demand's Teeth

Retail gasoline price down, margin up, says Lundberg

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- The U.S. average retail price of regular grade gasoline is $3.3766 per gallon, down 9.62 cents pre gallon over the past three weeks, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.

More dramatic: It is down 46.09 cents since Oct. 5.

The three causes of that nine-week price crash are softer crude oil prices, refinery capacity problems being reduced and resolved and the lower seasonal gasoline demand that always occurs in the fall and winter. Also, storm Sandy contributed her regional kick in demand's teeth.

Since November 16, refiner margin on gasoline narrowed while retailer margin on gasoline expanded. Nationally on regular grade, retailers had an apparent margin of nearly 22 cents. The margin gain since November 16 was close to a nickel.

What's next for retail price will depend most, as always, on what crude oil prices do. But just in the past few days, refiners continued give big price cuts to their unbranded accounts. If the rest of the wholesale market gets similar cuts, we may see another 5-to-10-cent drop at the pump in coming days.

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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