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Gas prices drop despite oil futures' climb

November 17, 2009|Ronald D. White

Pump prices edged lower nationally and in California over the last week, the Energy Department said Monday, and analysts were predicting the trend would hold in the near term despite a strong day for oil futures.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline fell another 2 cents in California to $2.961, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of filling stations. Analysts said the state's numbers should continue to fall because the wholesale trading price for the unfinished fuel that is blended into the state's gasoline was running at $2.01 a gallon.

"California gasoline has more dropping to do to get in line with where it should be," said Tom Kloza, senior energy analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey, which tracks U.S. gasoline prices through filling station credit card receipts. He added that the same should be true nationally, even though oil refiners have tried to cut production to raise prices and reduce a surplus.

Nationally, the average price for a gallon of regular gas fell 3.7 cents to $2.629.

"There's still an awful lot of gasoline to go around right now, and demand is still weak. Gains in oil should not affect gasoline prices right now," Kloza said.

Light sweet crude oil futures for December delivery had their best trading day in several weeks, rising $2.55, or 3.3%, to $78.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Analysts said the continuing weakness of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies was driving investor money into oil and other commodities.

Strong stock market gains also helped push oil higher, analysts said.

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ron.white@latimes.com

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