Western Pennsylvania motorists are ringing in the holiday with lower gas prices. Prices dropped almost four cents to 3.406 this week in the region, according to AAA Central East.
Wednesday's national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.247. Prices fell steadily for more than three months, as the transition to less-expensive, winter-blend gasoline; cheaper crude oil prices; increasing gasoline inventories; lower demand; and continued economic concerns meant relief at the pump for drivers across the country.
The national average was $3.87 on September 14, the day before much of the country began the seasonal fuel changeover, and dropped to a 2012 low of $3.22 last Thursday, December 20. As crude oil prices have firmed, the decline in retail gasoline prices has slowed and now reversed.
It is interesting to note the average national gas price on New Year's Day for the last five years: 2008 - $3.04, 2009 - $1.62, 2010 $2.65, 2011 - $3.07 and 2012 - $3.28.
Whether gas prices continue to rise or again turn lower will be impacted by action or inaction in Washington surrounding the looming "fiscal cliff." If a deal is reached before the end-of-year deadline it will likely be seen as positive for the U.S. economy, which could send crude prices and gas prices higher. If a deal is not reached, markets are likely to slump and gas prices could go even lower.
Crude oil prices increased to begin last week, settling above $90 per barrel on Thursday for the first time since October 19. However as hope for resolution in Washington faded on Friday, prices again turned lower and ended the week back below that threshold. At Monday's close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled at $88.61 per barrel, down five cents on the day.
This week's average prices: Western PA Average $3.406
Average price during the week of December 18, 2012 $3.441
Average price during the week of December 27, 2011 $3.301
Wednesday's National Average Price $3.247
The following is a list of the average price of unleaded self-serve gasoline in various areas:
$ 3.453 Altoona
$ 3.427 Beaver
$ 3.402 Bradford
$ 3.260 Brookville
$ 3.447 Butler
$ 3.398 Clarion
$ 3.213 Du Bois
$ 3.357 Erie
$ 3.466 Greensburg
$ 3.457 Indiana
$ 3.442 Jeanette
$ 3.442 Kittanning
$ 3.463 Latrobe
$ 3.452 Meadville
$ 3.423 Mercer
$ 3.291 New Castle
$ 3.458 New Kensington
$ 3.452 Pittsburgh
$ 3.351 Sharon
$ 3.398 Uniontown
$ 3.398 Warren
$ 3.474 Washington
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Kentucky servicing 2.5 million members.