U.S. pump gasoline prices, already at the lowest levels since mid-July, probably will decline further the rest of the year because of cheaper, increasingly abundant crude oil, the Energy Information Administration said in its This Week in Petroleum Report.
Refiners' seasonal switch to lower-cost winter-grade gasoline from more-expensive summer blends has also led to lower retail fuel prices. Nationwide, regular-grade pump gasoline averaged $3.492 a gallon as of November 5, down 9.3% over the past four weeks but up still up 2% from $3.424 a year earlier.
Global oil markets are expected to "continue to loosen" as fuel production outpaces consumption, the EIA, a CME Group featured contributor, said in the report. " Much of the effect of this easing is already reflected in prices."
Still, the impact of Hurricane Sandy on petroleum supply chains in the Northeast "injects additional uncertainty" into forecasts, the EIA said. Price effects from the storm " have been thus far fairly muted," but the gasoline inventories in the Northeast "are currently at relatively low levels; if supply disruptions linger longer than current expectations, it could push prices in the region higher."