Gas prices at a Shell station in Sausalito, Calif., top the state average… (Justin Sullivan, Getty…)
Retail gasoline prices were mostly stable over the last week, and oil failed to gain much of a boost from an apparent bipartisan deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California barely budged over the last week, down 0.7 of a cent to $3.811, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of service stations. Over the last month, the California average has varied by less than 2 cents a gallon, up from $3.794 on July 4.
Nationally, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 1.2 cents in the last week to $3.711, the Energy Department said. Refinery outages, petroleum pipeline problems, storms and flooding have pushed the national average up more than 13 cents a gallon over the last month.
That left Californians in the rare position of paying for gasoline than is just a dime more expensive than the national average, despite having the nation's most complicated blend because of air quality considerations. The state's average often runs as much as 50 cents a gallon higher than prices in other parts of the U.S.
"California prices and supplies have been remarkably stable," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. "The state's gasoline is refusing to trade at a premium like it almost always does."
If oil traders were looking for a big boost from an apparent break in the months-long stalemate over the federal debt ceiling, they were in for a rude surprise.
The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude, sagged 81 cents to settle at $94.89 a barrel, its lowest close since late June. Weak demand and poor U.S. manufacturing numbers dragged the commodity into the loss column in the U.S.
Brent North Sea crude, the European benchmark, was up 7 cents to $116.81 a barrel.