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AAA: Cheapest December national gas price average in two years — welcome news for holiday travelers

At $2.37, the national gas price average continues to drive toward the cheapest pump prices seen during the month of December since 2016, which is welcome news for the millions of Americans expected to begin holiday travel later this week.

“AAA expects 102 million Americans to drive to their holiday destination this year, which is a four percent increase year-over-year,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “No doubt cheaper gas prices are fueling their decision to hit the road.”

Kentucky’s average gas price is now at $2.13, down from $2.17 a week ago when it had taken a 3-cent week-over-week jump. Lexington average gas price is now at $2.05, dropping from its hop up of $2.20 of a week ago.

Across the country, states are seeing gas price averages that are as much as 12-cents cheaper. Florida (+1 cent) is the only state to see gas prices increase, while Missouri’s gas price average dropped to $1.96, making it the lowest spot in the nation.

The national average is a nickel less than last week, 26-cents less than last month and six-cents less than a year ago. With gasoline production on the high side – 10 million barrels per day – amid low demand, motorists can expect gas prices to continue declining through year-end.

Prices Trend Downward Across the Commonwealth

While last week saw gas prices take slight upward jumps in many places, average gas prices are now lower week over week across all metro areas of Kentucky, with Owensboro the low spot at $2.01. Lexington motorists are now paying 21 cents less than a month ago.

Kentucky Average Gas Prices, Dec. 17, 2018

States in the Central U.S. See Some of the Nation’s Cheapest Gas Prices

At the start of the week, pump prices are cheaper on the week for all Great Lakes and Central states, including Kentucky. This week’s declines wiped out any increases from the previous week in Ohio (-12 cents), Indiana (-9 cents) and Michigan (-9 cents). In fact, these states, in addition to Illinois (-8 cents) land on the top 10 list with the largest weekly changes in the country. Kentucky recovered 4 cents on the week.

At $1.96, Missouri has the cheapest gas price average in the region and in the country. The last time the state saw prices this cheap was two years ago in December 2016. At that time, crude oil prices ranged from $50-52 per barrel, which is similar to crude oil prices as of late.]

Regional refinery utilization jumped from 94 to 98 percent and along with it, added 350,000 barrels, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports. Total gasoline stocks in the region register at 49.8 million barrels – a healthy mark for this time of year and a 2.5 million barrel year-over-year surplus.

Quick Stats on the Nation

• The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($1.96), South Carolina ($2.03), Oklahoma ($2.04), Arkansas ($2.04), Alabama ($2.05), Louisiana ($2.05), Texas ($2.05), Mississippi ($2.06), Kansas ($2.06) and Ohio ($2.07).

• The nation’s top 10 largest weekly decreases are: Ohio (-12 cents), Indiana (-9 cents), Idaho (-9 cents), Montana (-9 cents), Michigan (-9 cents), Colorado (-8 cents), Illinois (-8 cents), Washington (-7 cents), Utah (-7 cents) and Hawaii (-6 cents).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased $1.38 to settle at $51.20. Oil prices mostly fell last week as market observers continue to worry that the global crude market is oversupplied. Although the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil producers, including Russia, agreed last week to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day at the beginning of 2019, crude prices will likely remain low until the production reduction agreement is in place.

In related news, total domestic crude inventories are continuing to slide. Crude inventories around the country fell by 1.2 million barrels, according to new data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Stocks now total 442 million barrels, which is approximately 1 million barrels lower than where they were at this time last year. With domestic inventories now falling and OPEC’s production reduction agreement set to take effect in early 2019, crude prices could increase early next year. If they do, motorists will likely see pump prices increase.

AAA offers these tips to motorists to save at the pump:

• If your vehicle’s engine does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, don’t buy it.  Using anything other than regular grade is simply a waste of money.

• Don’t top off your gas tank. Stop filling after the automatic nozzle shuts off the second time.

• If you have to replace a gas cap, make sure it is the right one for your car. An ill-fitting cap will increase emissions and trigger the “check engine” light.

• Keep track of gas mileage. If you notice a sudden decrease in fuel economy, have your vehicle checked by a technician to ensure it is operating properly.

• Check for proper tire pressure, which can fluctuate greatly with changing temperatures.

• Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com.

From AAA

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