Bloomberg News

U.S. Gasoline Rises to $3.51 a Gallon, Lundberg Survey Shows

February 13, 2012

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations increased 11.57 cents to $3.5101 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The price jump covers the three-week period ended Feb. 10 and is based on the Camarillo, California-based company’s survey of about 2,500 stations. The price is 42.89 cents higher than a year earlier, when the average was $3.0812.

Prices advanced as West Texas Intermediate crude rose 21 cents a barrel while Brent oil rose $7.45 a barrel over the three-week period from the last survey, Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. Brent was affected by declining North Sea production, unrest in Sudan and South Sudan that has shut pipelines and “skittishness” over Iran threatening to cut exports, she said.

“It is a fact that refiners are more sensitive to what European grades of crude such as Brent do than WTI,” Lundberg said. “We are seeing strong dynamics in the crude oil market beyond our shores.”

Gasoline futures jumped 19.05 cents a gallon on speculation that refinery closures in Europe, the U.S. and the Virgin Islands would crimp supplies during the spring and summer peak driving season.

The contract nearest to expiration on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 6.8 percent to $2.9749 a gallon in the three weeks ended Feb. 10.

Stockpiles Rose

U.S. gasoline stockpiles increased 1.63 million barrels to 231.8 million in the week ended Feb. 3, according to the Energy Department. Supplies were at an 11-month high and gained 14 percent since Nov. 4.

Deliveries to wholesalers during the past four weeks were 6.8 percent below a year earlier while total fuel supplied was down 4.8 percent.

Gasoline demand at the pump in the week ended Feb. 3 sank 2.8 percent from the prior week and was more than 5 percent below year-earlier levels for the third straight week, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse report on Feb. 7. Consumption during the previous four weeks was 4.9 percent below a year earlier, the 48th consecutive decline in that measure.

Crude May Rise

Crude prices may rise this week after U.S. refineries processed more crude, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Operating rates at plants climbed 1 percentage point to 82.8 percent of capacity in the week ended Feb. 3, the first gain in four weeks, according to department data.

Nineteen of 36 analysts, or 53 percent, forecast oil will climb through Feb. 17. Eight respondents, or 22 percent, predicted prices will decline and nine estimated there will be little change. It was the most bullish response since April.

Crude oil supplies rose 304,000 barrels to 339.2 million in the seven days through Feb. 3, according to the department, the highest level since October. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil, increased 367,000 barrels to 30.5 million, the third consecutive gain.

On Long Island, regular gasoline increased 15.15 cents to an average of $3.82 a gallon, which was the highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities surveyed, Lundberg said. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.81 a gallon, a 1.28-cent increase from the last survey.

The lowest price was in Denver, where customers paid an average of $3.01, a 5.54-cent rise, Lundberg said.

--With assistance from Mark Shenk in New York. Editors: David Marino, Bill Banker

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara J. Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net; Colin McClelland in Toronto at cmcclelland1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net.


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