Bloomberg News

U.S. Gasoline Climbs to $3.8148, Lundberg Survey Shows

March 12, 2012

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations increased 12.31 cents to $3.8148 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

The price jump covers the two-week period ended March 9 and is based on the Camarillo, California-based company’s survey of about 2,500 stations. The price is 30.87 cents higher than a year earlier, when the average was $3.5061.

Higher pump prices heading into peak summer driving season have become an issue in this year’s U.S. presidential election. The Obama administration said it’s monitoring prices in 360 U.S. cities to guard against fraud or price manipulation. Republican presidential candidates said yesterday environmental and permitting decisions by Democrats affecting oil drilling have exacerbated oil-price spikes.

“As refineries complete their maintenance, overall motor- gasoline supply will become more generous, and this will probably put a stop to the price rise,” Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “This of course depends on whether crude-oil prices cooperate.”

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published today showed 65 percent of Americans surveyed disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling the situation on gasoline prices, with 26 percent expressing support.

Crude Prices

Prices advanced as West Texas Intermediate crude in New York fell 2.2 percent to $107.40 a barrel, while Brent oil in London rose 0.4 percent to $125.98 in the two-week period from the last survey.

Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped 17.96 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $3.3324 a gallon in the two weeks ended March 9.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell 396,000 barrels in the week ended March 2 to 229.5 million, a six-week low, the Energy Department reported March 7.

Gasoline consumption slipped 1.2 percent, and the amount of the fuel supplied over the past four weeks was 7.8 percent below a year earlier, department data show.

Retail demand in the seven days ended March 2 declined 1.5 percent from the prior week and was 6.5 percent below a year earlier, according to MasterCard (MA) Inc.’s SpendingPulse report on March 6. Motor-fuel use during the previous four weeks was 6.3 percent below a year earlier, the 50th consecutive decline in that measure.

Iran Tensions

Crude prices may fall this week as calls for negotiations between nuclear powers and Iran may reduce tension that’s helped bolster crude prices this year, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Fourteen of 28 analysts, or 50 percent, forecast oil will fall through March 16. Ten respondents, or 36 percent, predicted prices will rise and four estimated there will be little change. Last week, 56 percent of surveyed analysts expected an increase.

Crude-oil supplies rose 832,000 barrels to 345.7 million in the seven days through March 2, according to the department, the highest level since September. Inventories (DOESCROK) at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil, increased 2.37 million barrels to 36.2 million, the highest level since July.

On Long Island, regular gasoline increased to $4 a gallon, according to Lundberg. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $4.35.

The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities surveyed was in Los Angeles, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Denver, Colorado, where customers paid an average of $3.36 a gallon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara J. Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net; Moming Zhou in New York at mzhou29@bloomberg.net

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


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