Will gas price here break below $3 before summer ends

Published 12:29 am Sunday, June 17, 2012

RaceTrac at 2 p.m. Friday posted $3.099 a gallon for regular gasoline, the lowest price here since the gas price of a gallon of regular pushed over $3 in February 2011.

Experts had been predicting the price would hit $5 a gallon this summer, but prices broke in April.

Experts say they expect gasoline to continue to fall, reflecting the drop in gasoline futures in the market, but others say speculation churns the price, and it could go up again.

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However, most agree that if the Middle East remains peaceful that prices should gradually move downward.

However, if Israel attacks Iran, all bets are off.

Currently, local residents are enjoying a little more money in their pockets since gas prices have fallen some, and The Associated Press reported that the fall in petrol prices has been reflected in lower retail and wholesale prices.

But the AP also reported that consumers are holding on to their wallets and are being cautious on increasing their spending.

So with more money in their pockets, and retail and wholesale prices slightly lower, shoppers are basking in a little bit of relief, although not much.

RaceTrac at Exit 4 on I-59 paces the pricing here, and when it posts its prices, Bill’s Quick Stop at East Canal and Hwy. 43 South and Murphy’s at Wal-Mart, match RaceTrac.

There are six gas stations at Exit 4 in Picayune, where competition gives motorists their cheapest prices in the county. The further north you go the higher the price.

In October, 2010, RaceTrac posted $2.589 a gallon for regular, a price that many have forgotten ever existed. After that, gasoline prices gradually moved up, sometimes surging, to just under $4 a gallon for regular nationally, and $3.79 a gallon on average in Mississippi and in Picayune.

At one point during the march to the peak, gas surged here in one month by 20 cents per gallon. In just one three-day period in February prices surged six cents per gallon.

From October, 2010, to February, 2012, a gallon of regular gas here surged 76 cents per gallon for regular, or about 22.6 percent. That tracked with the national average.

Only about one month later, in early April, after hitting the $3.70 range here, prices on the international market broke, causing prices at the pump to begin a slow decline, that on Friday hit $3.099.

The Associated Press reported that although gas price declines have impacted retail prices, consumers did not increase spending in April and May.

The Commerce Dept. reported that retail sales in May dipped 0.2 percent.

The economic results, said the AP, might be showing that consumers, despite the good news on gas, believe the good news won’t last.

Cheaper gas, said the AP, had reportedly pushed down the government’s measure of wholesale prices by one percent in May, the most in three years.

In April gasoline prices dropped nine percent, the most in almost three years.

The AP reported that lower gas prices could give consumers more to spend in the coming months on restaurant meals, clothing, appliances and other discretionary purchases.

Last week AAA reported the national average for a gallon of regular gas was $3.54, down 19 cents from one month earlier.

(Dispatches from the AP were used in this report.)