Pump Prices Finally Ease

Retail margin widens as rack prices tumble

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- After a 15-week surge, retail gasoline prices are finally slipping.

gas prices

The U.S. retail average price of regular grade rose 60.36 cents per gallon (CPG) between Feb. 19 and June 3, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations. It has now dropped 0.69 CPG to $2.3653.

Oil prices slipped just slightly as they gyrated up and then back down over the two-week period. The U.S. gasoline market is nicely flush, with supply more ample than our strong gasoline demand. Refining capacity usage now exceeds 90%.

In the past couple of days, tumbling rack prices have hit, creating sudden sunshine for retail margin. Thanks to happy timing, the U.S. average retail margin on regular-grade gasoline is nearly 27 CPG. This is welcome relief after a month of living on about half of that delta, and there are many who will need to try to hang onto this comparative bonanza for a while.

Year to date, this margin now slightly exceeds the excellent full-year 2015 average on regular, which was an all-time historical high.

Meanwhile, the year-to-date retail price of regular grade amounts to 38 cents spread under 2015’s full-year average pump price.

If oil prices, the refining-capacity use rate, soft wholesale gasoline prices and expanded retail margin continue for now, the likelihood of further retail price slippage is greater than the likelihood of a resumption of pump price increases.

Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries. Click here for previous Lundberg Survey reports in CSPDailyNews.

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