Prices at pump up 9 cents; hold­ing pat­tern pre­dicted

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­san Sal­is­bury Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Gaso­line prices nor­mally de­cline af­ter La­bor Day, but fuel prices shot up in the past week af­ter crude oil reached a twoyear high. Prices at the pump are ex­pected to re­main at their cur­rent lev­els for the time be­ing.

Palm Beach County’s av­er­age for a gal­lon of reg­u­lar stood at $2.63 Mon­day, up 9 cents from a week ago, ac­cord­ing to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Re­port. A year ago, the county’s av­er­age was $2.31 a gal­lon.

Florida’s av­er­age reached $2.52, 13 cents higher than a week ago.

In mid-Novem­ber a year ago, the state av­er­age was $2.15.

The rise is rare for this time of year be­cause gas prices typ­i­cally de­crease af­ter La­bor Day as the sum­mer driv­ing sea­son ends. The price jump oc­curred ear­lier in the week and prices sta­bi­lized over the week­end, AAA of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

“Our usual au­tumn price plunge

was in­ter­rupted by ris­ing oil prices,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenk­ins. “For­tu­nately oil prices let off the throt­tle last week, al­low­ing gas prices to find what ap­pears to be solid ground. How­ever, mo­torists should ex­pect gas prices to linger at their cur­rent lev­els this week.”

Crude oil futures reached a two-year high of $57.35 a week ago, the high­est daily set­tle­ment since June 2015. It takes a while for changes in the oil mar­ket to trickle down into gaso­line prices.

Jenk­ins said in­creases in oil prices al­most al­ways lead to higher prices at the pump.

“Ex­pen­sive crude makes it more costly for re­finer­ies to pro­duce gaso­line, and that price is typ­i­cally passed along to the con­sumer,” he said. “For­tu­nately, oil prices backed off a bit last week, which pulled the plug on the gas price hike.”

Jenk­ins said do­mes­tic pol­i­tics in the Mid­dle East might be a fac­tor.

“An­a­lysts warn that oil prices could be some­what volatile this week, as the con­sol­i­da­tion of power in Saudi Ara­bia leaves spec­u­la­tors ques­tion­ing the im­pacts on global oil sup­ply,” Jenk­ins said. “For­tu­nately, domes- tic oil sup­ply and pro­duc­tion made solid gains. If that be­comes a trend, oil prices could drift lower and take gaso­line prices with them.”

Pa­trick DeHaan, head of pe­tro­leum anal­y­sis for Gas- Buddy, agreed that the price rise is un­usual for fall.

“The cheap­est price this year was in July while the most ex­pen­sive showed up af­ter the driv­ing sea­son con- cluded as Har­vey hit, and we may get closer to that mark as gaso­line in­ven­to­ries con­tinue to drift to new mul­ti­year lows,” DeHaan said. “It’s been a lousy time for mo­torists, and I’d ex­pect to see some cut their spend­ing dur­ing the hol­i­days as gas prices are up.”

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