Margin Recovers

Retail prices gain eight cents, may stabilize, says Lundberg

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- For the first time since mid-May, retail gasoline prices jerked up: 8.38 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, to $3.6746 for regular grade, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations. Wholesale gasoline prices slipped in the same two-week period.

Result: Retail margin on gasoline gained more than 11 cents and is now in healthier territory at about 17 cents for regular grade on average.

Refiner margin on gasoline is slim, but not acutely so. Refiners had already passed through their higher crude oil buying prices into wholesale gasoline, but retailers had not yet passed them through to motorists. Now, by raising prices on the street, retailers have recovered much of their prior loss.

If crude oil prices do not jump, this may be it for retail price hikes for now, or prices may rise a few more pennies as those retailers still behind on margin seek recovery. Gasoline supplies are plentiful, and U.S. refiners are running their capacities at heroic rates, meeting and exceeding summer gasoline demand.

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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