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Gas Prices Ascending into Labor Day Weekend

Rising crude prices and Louisiana floods causing price jump.

by on Aug.31, 2016

With the Labor Day weekend looming, gas prices continue to rise.

Gasoline prices continue to move upwards heading into the Labor Day weekend.

After dropping for two months, including a streak of 53 out of 54 days, pump prices are increasing and the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has risen for 14 consecutive days, according AAA.

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The average price of $2.22 per gallon nationwide marks an increase of six cents per gallon compared to one week ago and eight cents per gallon compared to one month ago, AAA reported. Despite the increase, drivers are paying 27 cents less than they did at this same time last year and are on track to pay the lowest Labor Day gas prices since 2004.

Demand for gasoline also remains very strong. Some 55% of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices and Americans are expected purchase about 400 million gallons of gasoline each day over Labor Day weekend, at an aggregate cost of about $880 million per day.

A number of factors are behind what’s driving prices higher for motorists, including: higher crude oil prices, refinery issues on the Gulf Coast and the threat of a tropical weather system moving into the Gulf of Mexico, according to AAA.

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AAA noted that prices in the Midwest have been the most volatile in the nation in recent years, but prices in Southern and East Coast states during the last week have headlined the list of biggest movers in the wake of the massive flooding that swamped the state of Louisiana.

Refinery issues along the Gulf Coast, including flooding at the Baton Rogue Exxon Mobil and Covent facilities and a refinery outage in Baytown, Texas, pushed prices higher in areas supplied by these facilities.

Gas prices in three states are below $2 a gallon, six fewer than one week ago: South Carolina at $1.95, Alabama at $1.98 and Mississippi at $1.99.

Prices for crude oil, however, have been unable to sustain any kind of upward momentum, suggesting the price of gasoline could drop again after Labor Day.

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West Texas Intermediate oil prices briefly fell below $40 per barrel in July, but have turned higher in August.

Prices retreated slightly last week from their recent high of $48.52 set on Aug. 19, but remain more than 10% higher than one month ago.

Other factors influencing the oil market include possible interest rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries consideration of an agreement that would limit production in an effort to influence prices higher.

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Members of OPEC are due to meet informally in Algeria on Sept. 26-28 on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum. There are few expectations of any real meaningful agreement and the market may not see any changes impacting the cost of crude oil until the meeting has commenced.

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