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California

Gasoline Prices Down Nationally, Up in State

The disparity stems from California's earlier switch to lower-emission fuel for summer driving.

February 21, 2005|From Associated Press

Gasoline prices nationwide dropped slightly in the last two weeks as oil price hikes were checked by an increase in the gasoline supply, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The average retail price for all three grades dropped half a cent to $1.93 from Feb. 5 to Friday, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations across the country.

The most popular grade, self-serve regular, was priced at an average of $1.90 a gallon, while customers paid $2 for midgrade. Premium averaged $2.10 a gallon for the period.

During the two-week period, crude oil prices rose by nearly $2 a barrel, but gasoline supplies also grew, offsetting the price increase, Lundberg said.

"This small drop in price doesn't herald big price cuts to come," Lundberg said. "More likely, gasoline prices will cease dropping soon, unless crude oil prices fall dramatically."

She said gas prices probably would rise in the future toward a peak period of June, July and August.

Although the price nationwide dropped, the price of each grade of gas rose by about 11 cents in California to an average of $2.33.

Lundberg said the increase stemmed from the annual maintenance to phase in the production of lower-emission gasoline for the high-demand summer months, which California tends to begin before other states.

"These price phenomena we are seeing already in the West" are heading east, she said.

The highest average price for regular gas was in Honolulu, at $2.32 a gallon. The lowest price was in Cheyenne, Wyo., at $1.75.

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