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Gasoline prices are near their bottom, for now, analysts say

July 5, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Motorists can expect gasoline prices to drift slightly lower over the rest of the summer, but most of the declines around the U.S. that have occurred since May are over, analysts said, as the average for a gallon of regular in California reached $3.783 and stood at $3.562 nationally.

NAT_grph The average prices are from the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, which uses retail receipts from more than 100,000 retail outlets around the U.S., compiled by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

California prices have dropped by an average of 46.7 cents a gallon since their peak on May 2. They have fallen by 4.1 cents a gallon since last week.

Nationally, the price rose by an average of 1.1 cents to $3.562 a gallon, largely because of continuing problems with refineries in the Midwest, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey.

"Refiners have had trouble getting things working properly in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois," said Kloza, adding that he expected prices to bottom out for the summer between a range of $3.25 a gallon to $3.75 a gallon, with California toward the higher end of that range.

In other energy news, oil prices rose on signs that the economic recoveries in the U.S. and China were improving. Crude for August delivery gained $1.95 to $96.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its highest close since June 14. Oil prices are 34% higher than they were one year ago.

-- Ronald D. White

Chart: The 12-month per gallon rolling average for gasoline and oil prices around the U.S. Credit: AAA Fuel Gauge Report