Gas prices start to trend down

Gasoline prices have returned to their downward trajectory in the last week, according to data from price-tracker GasBuddy.com. The national average shed 8.5 cents per gallon, falling today to $2.60 a gallon, 84 cents lower than last year’s price of $3.44 a gallon.

Over 1,000 gas stations in the U.S. now boast selling prices under $2 a gallon, a number likely to explode by the holidays. More stations are selling gasoline under $2 a gallon than over $4 a gallon, a sign that the West Coast’s pain at the pump is over. 49 states saw declines versus a week ago, with just Wyoming sitting out of the party with a 0.3 cent rise.

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The big move lower at the pump comes as oil prices continue their apparent free-fall, moving under $39 a barrel Monday morning, the lowest in over six and a half years. The Midwest, which had been home to quickly rising prices in recent weeks, has calmed down after news sources reported that BP’s sprawling Whiting, Indiana refinery could come online much sooner than expected after temporary repairs were made.

Leading the nation lower in the last week:

  • Indiana, down 19.8 cents per gallon
  • Ohio, down 19.2 cents per gallon
  • Michigan, down 18.2 cents per gallon
  • Illinois, down 13.6 cents per gallon
  • Missouri, down 12.9 cents per gallon

While refinery issues have seemingly been put in the rearview for the Midwest, they may be just beginning for the Northeast, after a Friday fire at a PBF refinery in Delaware City. GasBuddy will be monitoring the markets in reaction to the fire, and it’s possible the fire will be lost in the midst of a selloff in global stock markets.

Pump prices are likely to continue to move lower country-wide, so long as the refining wildcard remains in check. With the conclusion of the summer driving season, demand will begin to move lower, and combined with the return of cheaper winter gasoline in mid-September, much downward pressure remains at the pump.

Diesel prices continue to move lower as demand remains weak ahead of the fall harvest season. The national average for diesel fell some 3.5 cents a gallon in the last week, bringing diesel to its lowest since the recession: $2.62/gallon. Unlike gasoline prices, diesel prices are likely to gain between now and Halloween as farmers boost demand for the fuel as they harvest crops.

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