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Retail gasoline-price rally hits the brakes, analysts say

Average cost at the pump in California falls 0.6 of a cent over the last week to $2.981 a gallon. The U.S. average falls 2.8 cents to $2.666.

November 10, 2009|Ronald D. White

Analysts said Monday that the month-old rally in retail gasoline prices across the U.S. had fizzled.

"There was a point in September when refineries were making as much as $20 to $25 on a barrel of product," said Tom Kloza, senior oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey. "Now, the average profit is about $2.50 a barrel. It's going to be a very challenging next few months for refiners."

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California edged lower by 0.6 of a cent to $2.981 over the last week, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of filling stations.

It was California's seventh pump price drop in the last eight weeks, down from the state's high for the year of $3.153 on Sept. 14.

After four straight weeks of modest gains, the national average fell 2.8 cents over the last week to $2.666.

This is in spite of the fact that major gasoline producers such as Sunoco Inc., Valero Energy Corp. and Flying J Inc. are doing extended maintenance on some of their facilities. Some of the biggest refineries in the nation have been shut down indefinitely as demand for fuel remains weak.

Meanwhile, the price of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil for December delivery rose $2 on Monday to settle at $79.43 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

--

ron.white@latimes.com

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