Home AAA: Gas prices trending down toward Memorial Day

AAA: Gas prices trending down toward Memorial Day


pumpingasMotorists hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend will continue to see prices moving a little lower at the gas pump.  The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Friday is $3.66, up a penny in the last week.

Prices are a penny lower than a month ago and even with the same day a year ago.  The national average ended a 16-day streak of daily declines last week, but has still dropped on 20 of the last 23 days (through Wednesday).  Even with these minor fluctuations in price, the national average is expected to remain well below last year’s peak price of $3.79 per gallon (February 27).  The national gas price average last Memorial Day was $3.63 per gallon.

“Winter blues and severe cabin fever have given Americans the travel bug as travel for the Memorial Day holiday is expected to hit a new post-recession high,” said Martha M. Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “AAA is projecting 36.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend, a 1.5 percent increase over last year, with 88 percent of travelers expected to go by car to their destination.  AAA expects holiday gas prices should be similar to last year’s national Memorial Day average of $3.63 per gallon.

Political tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to keep global markets on edge and are being closely monitored by market watchers for any signs of escalation.  Last Friday, President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to European Union governments indicating that a disruption in supply may be on the horizon.  Although analysts report the probability of a long-term disruption is relatively low, a cutoff of supply by Russia could have ripple effects that would be felt in Europe and the United States.  Also supporting the commodity was a large, unexpected draw on U.S. crude stockpiles, which pushed crude oil prices higher mid-week, topping $104 per barrel in intra-day trading, the highest level since April 21.  Prices retreated slightly Thursday after the U.S. Labor Department reported jobless claims increased to 326,000 last week.  Crude oil settled at $103.74 Thursday, up 1.7 percent from last Friday’s close and headed for  its third straight weekly advance.


In its weekly report, the Energy Information Administration noted that U.S. crude oil stocks declined by 7.2 million barrels to 391.3 million barrels, the largest since the beginning of the year when stocks declined by 7.7 million barrels the week ending January 10, and pulling back from the anticipated 400 million barrel mark.  Gasoline inventories fell by 1 million barrels to 211.4 million barrels.  Gasoline demand was down slightly, just 17,000 barrels per day (bpd), but at 9.174 million bpd is very strong.


Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, and always, the automobile will be the preferred method of transportation.  Nationally, AAA anticipates 88 percent of holiday weekend travelers (nearly nine out of ten) or 31.8 million people plan to drive to their holiday weekend destination, an increase of 1.2 percent over last year.

As the summer driving season gets underway, AAA anticipates gas prices have likely hit their peak and should decline into the summer.  Last year prices at the pump fell through the month of June, then rose in July.  This year it is anticipated that record U.S. crude inventories should put downward pressure on gas prices throughout the summer.  Of course, unforeseen factors such as natural disasters, supply disruptions or geopolitical tensions could change that by pushing the price of crude oil upward, which almost immediately translates to higher prices at the pump.



Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)


  5/23/14 Week Ago Year Ago
National $3.66 $3.65 $3.66
Virginia $3.48 $3.46 $3.40
Charlottesville $3.40 $3.43 $3.24
Norfolk Area $3.54 $3.51 $3.41
Richmond $3.40 $3.37 $3.40
Roanoke $3.38 $3.39 $3.27
Crude Oil $103.74 per barrel (at Thursday’s close) $102.02 per barrel (5/16/14) $94.25 per barrel





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