Gasoline prices fall more, but slide may be over: survey

Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:37pm EDT
 
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Consumers have caught a break from the slowing economy as gasoline prices extended their steep three-month decline, but the cost of filling the tank may soon head back up, a widely followed survey said on Sunday.

The Lundberg Survey said the national average price of self-serve, regular gas was $3.41 on July 13, down from $3.478 on June 22, and from $3.615 a year ago.

That decline was the sixth straight in the survey of 2,500 gas stations, which comes out every other or every third week.

Gasoline prices have fallen 14 percent from a recent peak of $3.967 a gallon set on April 6. The record high is $4.112 set on July 11, 2008.

Trilby Lundberg, who conducts the survey, in an interview said prices may soon enter a period of "comparative stability," reflecting crude oil price trends and the summer driving season.

She added that there is "no strong reason" to expect prices to keep hurtling toward $3 a gallon.

"The retail price may well have bottomed out," Lundberg said. "Crude oil prices turned around during the period, and we are in our seasonal period of higher consumption. Lower prices are also an incentive for consumers to drive more, including to work."

There are countervailing forces that might tend on their own to push prices lower or higher.   Continued...