Gasoline prices jumped again in the past week, with the Long Island average for regular rising 6.6 cents to $3.137, according to the AAA. But at least one analyst thinks motorists could get a few cents’ worth of relief at the pumps in coming weeks.
Strong gasoline supplies, a slippage in gasoline futures prices and flat demand could cause a decline, he says.
Crude oil futures are slipping, too — to below $80 a barrel for a while yesterday — on Greece’s financial woes and their possible impact on other European nations and on the value of the euro against the dollar. A weaker dollar against the euro has made oil, priced in dollars, more attractive to investors.
“If it all holds, you could see a dime, maybe more, off the price two weeks from now,” said Peter Beutel, the principal and president of the petroleum consulting company Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Conn.
The AAA said the national average for regular yesterday was $2.919 a gallon.
Before last month, the last time the Long Island average was over $3, prices were on the way down — from the record high of $4.346 on July 8, 2008, headed toward a bottom of under $2 in December of that year.
Higher crude prices have been a key reason for the increase, and they, in turn, resulted from investors buying oil as well as gasoline futures as safer investments than stocks, Beutel says, and in anticipation of a future increase in demand as the world economy recovers from recession.
Other factors in the rise in gasoline prices included the seasonal increase in driving with improving weather and the switch by refineries from winter to summer fuels — the latter more expensive to produce.
But the U.S. Department of Energy said yesterday in a weekly fuels update that the nation’s supplies of gasoline increased last week by 1.2 million barrels, to 224.9 million barrels. Imports of gasoline also rose, while demand fell slightly from the week before, to 9.2 million barrels a day.
But analysts are hardly unanimous in thinking pump prices could fall.
Hamza Kahn, a commodities analyst who helps produce the daily newsletter The Schork Report, believes based on the same data that prices will rise by another 5 cents at the pumps in the next few weeks. “Demand is flat now,” he said, “but we are heading into June.”
Yesterday, the website longislandgasprices.com, which compiles motorist reports, listed prices as high as $3.29 a gallon for regular — at nine stations in Suffolk County — and no lower than $2.93, at BJ’s warehouse club in Farmingdale.