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AAA: Gas prices holding steady

gas pricesGas prices around the Mid-Atlantic region are playing trick-or-treat. While many areas have stayed relatively steady throughout the week, prices are higher than this time last year.

The national average currently sits at $2.21 per gallon, which is a penny less than one week ago, one cent less than one month ago and 3 cents more year-over-year. The national average is down 18 cents per gallon versus the 2016 peak price reached in June ($2.39).

Although gasoline demand typically retreats during the fall due to lower driving demand and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline, continued unplanned outages could create volatility and put pressure on the national average in the near term. The country is also in the middle of fall turn around so many refiners are wrapping up scheduled maintenance.

“This year’s seasonal refinery maintenance continues across the United States and select regional markets are still under pressure as a result of planned and unplanned maintenance,” says Tammy Arnette, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “On the other hand, refiners are now able to offer a cheaper winter-blend gasoline and demand is dropping, so AAA expects that prices will follow demand downward in most parts of the country by November, barring any major event like a hurricane, storm, etc.”

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed down $2.15 from last week to settle at $48.70 per barrel. Closing prices for crude have been close to or slightly above the $50 mark all week. The market reacted early Monday morning to claims from Iraq that they would not participate in a potential OPEC production cut agreement. Traders will continue to monitor the announcement of manufacturing agreement details, but there remains continued uncertainty as to whether OPEC can meet the production targets and rebalance the market.

The slight increase in some gasoline prices nationwide is largely the result of higher oil prices. Details regarding the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) deal, one which could cut crude oil production, could be finalized at the group’s policy meeting next month. The group’s decision could have a major impact on the market in the upcoming weeks as global oil prices will continue to have an influence on gasoline prices.