Retail gas drops every day this week
NEW YORK (AP) ó Retail gas prices fell every day this week, easing off their summer peak of $2.693 a gallon as U.S. storage facilities swelled with unused supplies.
At the pump, the national average for gasoline dropped less than a penny Friday to $2.658 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.
A gallon of gas added an average of 22.4 cents in the past month as prices surged for 54 straight days. But it’s still cheaper than last year, when prices spiked above $4.
Meanwhile, oil prices followed stock markets lower on Friday as a wave of speculative buyers looked for direction after the Federal Reserve said the struggling economy would hold back inflation this year.
During the past few months, investors had snapped up crude barrels to protect themselves from a weaker dollar, helping oil prices rise to eight-month highs despite a huge surplus in the U.S.
On Friday, benchmark crude for August delivery lost $1.14 cents to $69.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent prices fell $1.15 cents to $68.63 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Political turmoil in Iran and Nigeria also continued to put pressure on oil prices. Both countries are major oil producers, and a conflagration in Iran could affect millions of barrels of exports in the Persian Gulf.
“Iran is a real wild card,” said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.
“I think we’ve peaked with gasoline prices at least, but that assumes that nothing major is going to happen over there,” he said.
Nigerian militants said they attacked a Royal Dutch Shell wellhead in the southern Delta state in response to a government operation against them, hours after the nation’s president offered them amnesty in exchange for laying down their arms.
The militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has been battling for a larger share of the country’s oil revenues.
Christoffer Moltke-Leth, head of sales trading for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore, said the oil price will likely rise to $75 a barrel before drifting to near $60 by the end of the year as investors become disillusioned by a sluggish economic recovery.
In other Nymex trading, gasoline for July delivery fell 2.79 cents to $1.8704 a gallon and heating oil lost 4.45 cents to $1.7318 a gallon. Natural gas for July delivery dropped less than a penny to $3.835 per 1,000 cubic feet.