Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations fell 12.54 cents to $3.4192 a gallon.
The price covers the two-week period ended Oct. 7 and is derived from a survey of about 2,500 filling stations nationwide by Camarillo, California-based Trilby Lundberg. The average price is about 23 percent above a year earlier, when the average was $2.77.
“You could see an extended period of far lower prices,” Lundberg said yesterday in a telephone interview. Any rally in crude would spur an increase in gasoline costs as well, though high levels of unemployment may crimp demand and limit price gains, she said.
The front-month gasoline contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 3.6 percent to $2.6476 a gallon in the two weeks ended Oct. 7.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles declined 1.14 million barrels to 213.7 million in the week ended Sept. 30, according to Energy Department data. It was the first decline in five weeks.
Crude prices may fall this week on concern that the European sovereign-debt crisis will spread, threatening economic growth and fuel demand, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Oil futures for November delivery rose 4.8 percent to $82.98 a barrel last week.
Fitch Ratings downgraded the government debt of Italy and Spain on Oct. 7, citing factors that included their vulnerability to the “euro zone crisis.” Belgium had its Aa1 local and foreign currency government-bond ratings placed on review for possible downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited the financing environment for euro sovereigns and increasing risks to economic growth.
In the U.S., the unemployment rate in September held at 9.1 percent, according to Labor Department data. The jobless rate has been at 9 percent or higher for 27 of the past 29 months. Payrolls climbed by 103,000 workers after a revised 57,000 increase the prior month that was more than originally estimated.
Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross said the employment gains aren’t enough to sustain growth. The economy needs 200,000 to 250,000 new jobs per month to expand, Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, said in a radio interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt on Oct. 7.
On Long Island, regular gasoline averaged $3.71 a gallon, Lundberg said. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.77 a gallon.
The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities surveyed on Oct. 7 was in San Francisco, with $3.81 a gallon. The lowest price was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a gallon averaged $3.07, Lundberg said.
--With assistance from Justin Doom in New York and Greg Chang in San Francisco. Editors: Millie Munshi, Sylvia Wier
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