Spring break break: Ore. gas prices down a bit

AAA: Prices up from month ago, down from year ago

PORTLAND, Ore. - Gas pump prices continue to inch down, giving some relief to travelers hitting the road for spring break, AAA Oregon/Idaho said Tuesday.

The national average for regular unleaded loses three cents to $3.66, while the Oregon average slips four cents to $3.74.  Both averages are well below the year-ago levels, when the national average was $3.90 and Oregon's was $4.06. 

"In fact, drivers in every state are paying less than they were a year ago," says AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds. "While drivers in 41 states and Washington D.C. are paying less now than they were a month ago, Oregon is one of several Western states where prices are higher now than they were a month ago."

It is still too soon to say whether retail prices have peaked for the spring, Dodds said, because there is still refinery maintenance to be completed. 

And while some Western states have already switched to the more expensive summer-blend gasoline, that transition has yet to occur across much of the country.

However, with the national average falling further below the year-ago price, AAA continues to predict that the national average will crest lower than recent years, Dodds said.

 In 2011, the national average for regular unleaded peaked at $3.98 on May 5. In 2012, the price peaked at $3.94 on April 5 and 6. The Oregon average peaked at $3.97 on May 6 in 2011 and $4.27 on June 1 in 2012.  The highest price to date for the national average in 2013 is $3.79 on Feb. 27.

For the 19th week in a row, Oregon remains out of the ten most expensive states for gasoline, ranking 16th most expensive this week.  But Washington is back in the top 10  for the third consecutive week, and California remains in the top five, in second place.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices are up to start this week. 

Last week, oil markets kept a wary eye on signs of economic instability overseas last week, following discussions of a 10 billion euro bailout package for Cyprus. While that country accounts for just 0.2% of the economic activity in the eurozone, there were some concerns that instability could spread to other economies if an agreement was not reached.

Following news over the weekend that a bailout deal had been reached, crude oil prices moved higher Monday.  At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled up $1.26 at $93.71 per barrel. Today WTI is trading around $95 per barrel, compared to $93 a week ago.  Crude prices are up about three percent in the last month.

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