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Decreasing Demand Stalls Rising Fuel Prices

AAA expects fluctuation as tensions in the Middle East impact the price of oil.
gas pump

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lackluster domestic demand for gasoline paired with decreasing oil prices led to the national average for a gallon of gas climbing 4 cents to $3.67 since last week, which is 21 cents more than a month ago and the same as a year ago, according to AAA.

With tensions running high in the Middle East over the past few weeks, the cost of oil reached the upper $80s per barrel. However, it has since fallen several dollars into the low $80s as the oil market watches to see if any further military actions occur, the outlet reported.

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"The situation overseas with war in both the Middle East and Ukraine has the oil market on edge," said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. "But this is also the time of year we may see a bit of a lull in gasoline demand between the end of spring breaks and ahead of Memorial Day. So the national average for gas may waffle a bit with small increases, some flat days and even some price dips."      

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration, gas demand rose slightly from 8.61 million to 8.66 million barrels per day last week. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 1.1 million barrels to 227.4 million barrels. Higher demand and a rise in oil prices could push pump prices higher.

"There are of course things that have been done in the past, and we'll continue to … make sure that gas prices remain affordable for so many American families going into the summer driving season," National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard said at Semafor's World Economy Summit. "We're highly attentive to the international oil markets and domestic gas prices. We'll continue to monitor closely and want to make sure that those gas prices remain in current ranges."

Currently, the nation's top 10 least expensive markets are Mississippi ($3.11), Colorado ($3.16), Louisiana ($3.18), Oklahoma ($3.22), Arkansas ($3.23),  New Mexico ($3.26), Tennessee ($3.26), Kansas ($3.26), Alabama ($3.27) and South Carolina ($3.27).

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The nation's top 10 most expensive markets include California ($5.45), Hawaii ($4.78), Washington ($4.67), Nevada ($4.63), Oregon ($4.44), Alaska ($4.37), Arizona ($3.13), Utah ($3.96), Illinois ($3.96) and Idaho ($3.93).

At the close of the formal trading session on April 17, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) decreased by $2.67 to settle at $82.86. WTI oil is another benchmark used by oil markets, representing oil produced in the United States.

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