Pump Price Slide Resumes

Retail margin regains
Photograph: Shutterstock

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The U.S. average retail price of regular-grade gasoline dropped 11.96 cents per gallon (CPG) in the past two weeks, to $3.8512 on Sept. 9, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets.

The price has been in steep decline for 13 weeks, totaling $1.2478.

Crude oil did it: Using WTI near-month futures contract prices, oil fell 14.93 CPG equivalent in these two weeks, a bit more than retail gasoline. Oil has been bouncing energetically, down $11 per barrel and then rebounding $6, all in the past two weeks.

Its unfolding bottom line changes will dictate a great deal about what gasoline prices do next, but meanwhile the U.S. gasoline market has built-in weakness of its own, including this month's seasonal demand dropoff on top of year-over-year demand destruction due to high pump prices and general inflation. September is also the month ending the costlier summer blend specs, adding a little to gasoline's price weakness.

In the prior two-week period, August 12 through August 26, the average retail price fell soundly, but retailers managed to eke out a gain of 0.27 CPG. This time, however, retailers kept a nice 6.83-CPG chunk of the steep wholesale price decline—leaving the national average regular grade retail margin at a handsome 48.83 CPG. on September 9.

Retail diesel price performance portrays ongoing tough times for consumers, and therefore for the entire petroleum products industry: The average price fell just one penny in the past two weeks, to $5.0692, and its total drop over its 11 weeks to declines is smaller than that of gasoline, just 81 cents. Even more telling is its year-ago price comparison, a price premium of $1.75 compared with gasoline's smaller $1.25.

Click here for previous Lundberg Survey reports in CSP Daily News.

Trilby Lundberg is publisher of the Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets. Lundberg Survey Inc. is based in Camarillo, Calif.

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