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Retail and Wholesale Gasoline Prices, Margin Hold Steady

Price trend looks unchanged, but isn't

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- The U.S. average retail price of regular-grade gasoline on March 9 was $2.5917, virtually unchanged from two weeks ago, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations. The weighted average wholesale price of regular grade is also a virtual no-change, as is retailer margin and the average total tax per gallon.

The retail price decline ended as expected, for reasons explored here. From there, there are several factors that may combine to increase the street price. First, although crude-oil prices dropped the equivalent of about 3.5 cents per gallon (CPG) during these two weeks, they rose a bit March 9 due to a favorable U.S. jobs report. Second, spring and summer government anti-smog regulations causing higher gasoline production costs will be hitting more wholesale markets over the next two months, as they always do. And third, the start of daylight saving time March 11 freed up gasoline demand that shorter daylight and worse weather (i.e., winter) always hinder.

But street prices don't appear likely to soar unless big crude-oil price increases occur, because of gasoline supply sufficiency and U.S. refiners' overall capacity utilization rate being superior to last year at this time.

U.S. average margin sits at just under 19 cents for regular grade, having shrunk by a miniscule nine-hundredths of 1 penny since Feb. 23. However, behind that average no-change lie some notable goodies (for example, margin is up nearly 14 cents in the past two weeks in Atlanta and is 16 cents better in Indianapolis) and some baddies (such as the average loss of 16.28 CPG in the El Paso, Texas, margin, and shrinkage of 11 cents in Salt Lake City).

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 CSP Daily News.

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