Gasoline Prices: Regular Unleaded Fell Nearly 4 Cents In The Past 2 Weeks

11/06/2011 06:02 pm ET | Updated Jan 06, 2012

(Reuters) - U.S. average retail gasoline prices fell
almost 4 cents a gallon over the last two weeks as the weak
economy prevented refiners and retailers from passing their
higher costs along to consumers, according to an industry
analyst.

The national average for self-serve regular unleaded gas
was nearly $3.43 a gallon on Nov 4, having fallen 3.82 cents
per gallon since the last report on Oct. 21 by the Lundberg
survey. The survey is based upon visits to about 2,500 gas
stations in the United States.

``Prices of crude oil rose in the past two weeks, but we did
not see it at the pump,'' said Trilby Lundberg, editor of the
survey.

She said refiners suffered declining margins during the
period, meaning there was a smaller difference between the
wholesale selling price of gasoline and the cost of crude oil.
Retailers, meanwhile, were also unable to pass along higher
costs due to declining gasoline demand.

``This is directly because of poor economic conditions,''
Lundberg said. ``The economy has damaged the work commute, which
is the chief input to gasoline demand.''

Should crude oil prices keep climbing, Lundberg said
refiners and retailers will not be able to continue swallowing
their higher costs. But she said costs of crude might not rise
in the near-term, in part because of expanding supplies from
Libya.

Los Angeles, at $3.83 a gallon, had the highest average
price for self-serve regular unleaded gas, while the lowest
price was $3.06 a gallon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; editing by Gunna Dickson)