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Dec-01-2009 12:16printcomments

Gas Prices Stuck in Neutral

Retail gas prices continue to hold steady with prices about the same as last week, and within a few cents of where they were a month ago.

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(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Retail gas prices continue to hold steady with prices about the same as last week, and within a few cents of where they were a month ago, according to Oregon AAA's Marie Dodds.

She says the national average for regular unleaded dropped a penny to $2.63 and Oregon's statewide average also fell a cent to $2.75.

"That compares to $2.69 and $2.75, respectively, a month ago," Dodds says,

"Pump prices have been relatively stable for the past six weeks, as have crude oil prices. Crude spiked to its high for the year at $82 per barrel in late October, but has since stayed in the upper $70s. This narrow trading range has helped to calm the financial markets because stable energy prices are helpful to consumers and businesses trying to dig themselves out of debt."

She says crude oil today is trading around $79, up from $76 a week ago. Crude fell to $72, a six-week low, last week after Dubai requested an extension on $60 billion in debt payments, but investor concern about that appears to be easing. One reason is because there is simply too much oil available in the market which helps keep prices in check.

Oil producing states and import-dependent industrialized economies both have an interest in maintaining this status quo, so consumers should expect oil production to increase if supply becomes constrained to keep a lid on prices awhile longer.

If economic growth does pick up next year, however, look for tightening oil supplies as OPEC and other oil producers try to dry up excess inventory and boost their profits. This would set the U.S. economy up for a classic spring rally in gasoline prices - hopefully at a time when the economy and consumers will be in better shape to absorb higher prices.

A year ago, gas prices were falling an average of two cents a day as the economic crisis widened. The national average was $1.82 and Oregon's was $1.93.

Oregon's statewide average is currently $2.745. The cheapest average in the state is in Portland where drivers are paying around $2.711 at the pump. Salem's average price of $2.728 is a close second. Motorists in Eugene/Springfield are seeing an average of $2.765 and in the Medford/Ashland area, the a gallon of regular is selling for around $2.803. Drivers in Vancouver, Washington are paying an average of $2.817 for self serve regular.

Two states have averages for regular unleaded at or above $3 a gallon, same as last week, and the top five most expensive states are also the same again this week.

Alaska stays on top with regular unleaded at $3.40, followed by Hawaii at $3.36, California at $2.92 (down from $2.93 last week), New York at $2.86, and Washington at $2.84 (down a penny and fifth most expensive for the sixth week in a row).

Oregon is eighth most expensive for the fourth consecutive week. Missouri has the least expensive gas for the fourth week in a row at $2.45.

Diesel prices are also holding steady. The national average falls a cent to $2.81, while Oregon’s average remains at $2.83. Hawaii has the highest statewide average price for diesel again this week at $3.93, followed by Alaska at $3.59, Connecticut at $3.05, New York at $3.03 and California at $3.00.

Washington's average diesel price drops two cents to $2.98 and is sixth highest again this week). Oregon's average is 24th most expensive, up from 25th last week. A year ago, the national average for diesel was $2.74 and Oregon's average was $2.81.

Source: Oregon AAA

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