Despite drops in monthly gas price comparisons, pump prices have started to rise a bit in many parts of California, putting the brakes on an early summer price slump. According to AAA, which tracks gas prices, all but one Northern California metro area tracked by the organization saw a double digit decrease at the pump over the past month.
The Golden State’s average for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is $3.78, down 16 cents since last month’s AAA report on June 14. For perspective, that’s 64 cents higher than California’s average price on this date last year. Among all 50 states, California is tied with Rhode Island, Washington, and Michigan for the ninth highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline. Alaska is first and Hawaii is second. Both are the only states with averages over four dollars.
Northern California gas prices are now averaging $3.77, down 15 cents from last month. In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorists can expect to pay an average price of $3.86, which is a 16-cent drop. The national average price of $3.64 is down by 6 cents, which is 92 cents more than the national price on this date last year, when it was $2.72.
The least expensive gas in Turlock is $3.45 a gallon for regular grade and can be found at the ARCO stations on Lander Avenue and E. Glenwood, N. Golden State Boulevard and Olive, and W. Main Street and Walnut Road, and Costco on N. Tegner Road, according to ModestoGasPrices.com.
“There has been huge volatility with crude oil prices recently, which is reflected in the gas prices that consumers are seeing at the pump,” explained AAA Northern California spokesperson Matt Skryja. “This recent jump in pump prices, across many parts of Northern California, comes as demand for gasoline rose over the last week. Prior to that, demand had dropped the last two weeks in June.”
Recently, investors have been spurred to buy more crude oil by a weak U.S. dollar and positive news about Greece’s financial future. This helped to drive up the price of crude, with gas prices following. Because oil futures are traded in U.S. dollars, when the dollar weakens, investors, including those holding foreign currencies, get comparatively more oil for their money. This makes crude oil a more attractive investment, which puts pressure on prices to move higher. Additionally, positive economic news spurs investors to buy, as they see growing economic strength as an indication that demand will increase. On Friday, a reversal of this positive outlook started to take hold. Poor jobs numbers in the U.S. and economic concerns about Portugal and China helped to curb investors’ buying activity and helped to put downward pressure on crude prices.
Of all the metro areas in Northern California where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka’s average price of $4.07 is the highest. It’s also the highest price in the lower 48 states. The least expensive gasoline in the country is found in St. George, Utah, where the average price of gas is $3.40. Wailuku, Hawaii, holds the dubious crown for the highest average price in the nation, at $4.37 per gallon.
One way consumers can reduce the amount of money they spend on fuel is to shop aggressively for the lowest price. AAA now offers text alerts via mobile phone for low gas prices. To sign up, visit www.aaa.com/gas.