TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2012) — Retail gasoline prices already have consumers concerned about $4 a gallon after prices jumped 10 cents in the first week of the new year. The new question is whether or not the national average will rise to $4.20 by spring or summer. While there’s the possibility pump prices could surpass $4 a gallon, it’s still too early to say exactly what the marquee will read four to
six months down the road. At this time, oil prices remain elevated as Iran still threatens to block the Strait of Hormuz and disrupt oil exports in the Middle East. Also, contributing to higher prices is the positive employment numbers recently released in the U.S. Oil settled at $101.56 a barrel Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange–$2.73 more than the week prior.
However, there is still bearish news in the market with the potential to push oil and gas prices lower in the coming weeks. Speculation Europe will enter a recession that could stifle global oil demand is weighing heavier on the market and has reduced the value of the euro against the dollar, a factor that takes away the appeal of oil as a commodity. U.S. gasoline demand is also on the decline with
inventories rising by 2.5 million barrels to 220.2 million the last week of December, according to the Department of Energy.
“Gas prices generally inch up after the first of the year on optimism the economy will continue to improve and set the stage for increased demand in the new year. The recent increase in U.S. payrolls by 200,000 in December supports this notion. Then, couple it with concerns Iran will disrupt Mideast oil exports and pump prices are sure to rise,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson, The Auto Club
Group. “However, there is still plenty of bearish news out there, mainly Europe’s looming debt woes, with the potential to drive down oil and gas prices, especially if the Iranian threats were to cease.
“Motorists will probably see pump prices inch up again this week, which is likely to reveal whether or not oil prices are sustainable above $100 a barrel.”
The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.37 per gallon, 10 cents more than last week. Florida’s average price of $3.44 increased 13 cents, while Tennessee’s average price of $3.24 rose 12 cents from last week. Georgia’s average price of $3.34 reflects a 14-cent increase from last week, respectively.