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Gas prices fall to nearly three-year low

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas was $3.20 a gallon on Friday, the lowest price at the gas pump since February 2011, according to AAA.

Gas prices continue their downward trek that started around Labor Day. Since Sept. 1, prices have dropped 39 cents per gallon, and have fallen 65 of the 75 days in that span.

The price of gas in the Central Shenandoah Valley is a good bit lower than the national average. At many stations, the price of regular unleaded gas is at or just below $3.00 a gallon.

AAA doesn’t expect the national average to fall down to the $3.00 a gallon mark, though it does see more downward movement, perhaps to the $3.10 per gallon mark by Christmas.

“While AAA does expect the national average price at the pump to continue to fall approaching the end of the year, and many motorists will enjoy local prices below $3 per gallon, the national average is unlikely to breach this threshold,” said Martha M. Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “The last time the national average registered less than $3 was December 22, 2010.  About one-in-four U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon today.  Only about 10 percent of stations are selling gas for more than $3.50 per gallon.”

Elevated crude oil prices have established an effective floor for how low pump prices could fall for consumers.  However, after 15 straight weeks above $100 per barrel, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil has now settled below this mark for four straight weeks, including a six-month low of $93.04 per barrel on Tuesday.

Crude oil settled at $93.84 Friday, down less than 1 percent on the week.

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