Prices at pump up 9 cents; holding pattern predicted
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.”