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AAA: Gas prices holding steady after weeks of increases

gas pricesLocal gas prices around the Mid-Atlantic region have slowed or stopped their advance over the last few days. Oil prices have changed very little in the past week, the refinery maintenance season has been relatively smooth and East Coast gasoline inventories grew by more than one million barrels. These factors helped to slow the larger increases seen over the last month.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.66, which is unchanged in the last week, up 13 cents in the last month and 27 cents higher than this time last year.

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $62.06 per barrel, down $2.88 from the previous week. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that crude oil inventories decreased by 4.6 million barrels last week, the biggest weekly decline since January, beating analysts’ forecasts. Throughout the week, fears of an escalating trade war with China played with prices mid-week, but they have started to ease.

“Despite the stall at the pump, gas prices should trend higher the closer we get to May,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As retailers begin to sell summer-blend gasoline, the increase in price to produce it will be passed on to consumers.”

AAA anticipates gas price averages are likely to continue their upward trend leading into the summer driving season as the switchover to more expensive summer blend gasoline begins (switchover day is May 1).  More-expensive summer blend gasoline has a lower volatility than winter-grade gasoline to limit evaporative emissions that normally increase with warm weather.

AAA has a variety of resources to help motorists save on fuel:

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