While the cost of gasoline has fallen steadily for more than three months, prices have begun creeping up again, with the national average jumping from $3.25 a week ago to $3.28 on Friday. Still, it is far below the $3.87 on September 14, the day before much of the country began the seasonal fuel changeover to less-expensive, winter-blend gasoline.
Cheaper crude oil prices, increasing gasoline inventories and lower demand have also helped give consumers some much needed relief at the pump.
In addition, the US Energy Information Administration states that while it foresees greater domestic energy production, particularly of crude oil, to continue, it expects “overall gas consumption to be lower in 2013." It also predicts that the "introduction of stricter fuel economy standards in new vehicles, along with the increased use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles, should also have a lasting impact on gas and other energy sources."
“Whether this trend will continue during the new year, however, will depend a lot on whether or not Washington can finally make a deal before we fall over the fiscal cliff,” commented Avery Ash of the AAA in the Association’s latest fuel gauge overview.
“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," he stated.
Meanwhile, petroleum analyst Patrick Dehann noted in his GasBuddy.com blog that the usual trend is for gas prices to rebound as we get further into January.
"It's happened six out of the last seven years: The national average has risen between Christmas Day and Jan. 15, and this year there's no reason to believe now that this won't happen again," he stated.