U.S. gasoline prices gained another 1.4 cents this week to average $3.508 per gallon, the Energy Information Administration said. It was the fourth consecutive week of national average price increases. Compared to last year, average gasoline prices are down 20 cents per gallon.
Over the past month retail gasoline prices have increased 7 cents per gallon as crude oil prices have rallied off lows set about a month ago. U.S. crude traded for $87.85 per barrel on Tuesday, while Brent crude traded at $104.62 per barrel. Both markets were lower on Tuesday as traders speculate that the Federal Reserve will not take action this week to spark the economy. U.S. crude had been as high as $110.55 on March 1.
U.S. consumer confidence rose in July after four months of decline. Housing prospects are also brighter as prices rose across the country. Economists believe the low in the housing market was established last winter. Oil traders claim as long as the economy exhibits growth the Fed may not initiate further stimulus action that supports higher oil prices.
A private-industry survey, the Lundberg Survey of 2,500 gas stations nation-wide, found the national average gasoline price on July 27 at $3.51, up from $3.41 on July 13. The increase represented the first increase in the Lundberg Survey in 14 weeks.
Gasoline prices in the Lundberg Survey fell over 14 percent from a recent peak of $3.967 a gallon set on April 6 before rising last week. The record high of $4.112 was set on July 11, 2008.
Trilby Lundberg, who conducts the survey, told Reuters the rise was because crude stopped falling and wholesalers began passing the price of the higher crude onto the consumer, something that was not seen in the early part of the month.
Average U.S. diesel prices also rose a penny the past week to $3.79 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. Diesel prices are 14 cents per gallon lower than last year.