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Gasoline prices still dropping; oil prices rebound

August 15, 2011 | 11:14 am

Retail gasoline prices were falling again on Monday as oil rebounded a bit from sharp losses last week. Oil's small gain was based on hopes that European leaders would solve that region's debt crisis, analysts said.

CA_grph The European benchmark, Brent North Sea crude, rose 93 cents to $108.96 after dipping as low as $107.40 on the ICE Futures Exchange in Europe. Brent crude is off sharply from its high of the year of $127 a barrel set in May. The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude, regained $1.41 to $86.79 a barrel during trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

West Texas Intermediate is also down considerably from its high of just under $114 a barrel set in May.

The news for motorists was expected to be fairly good, barring any major, unexpected disruptions in supply.

Gasoline prices could rise a bit near the approaching Labor Day weekend as families plan their last summer driving excursions. But on Sept. 15, California refineries begin the nation's earliest switchover from their more expensive summer blends to a cheaper winter formulation, which should keep the downward pressure on prices, said fuel price analyst Bob van der Valk.

In California, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline fell another six cents over the past week to $3.73 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That's a drop of 54.5 cents a gallon from the high so far for the year of $4.275 a gallon set on May 6. But prices remain substantially higher than one year ago, when an average gallon cost $3.175.

Nationally, the average dropped 6.9 cents a gallon over the past week to $3.594. A year ago, the average price for a gallon of gasoline nationally was just $2.755.

The graphic is the AAA's 12-month rolling average for regular gasoline prices.


Oil futures plunge

Gas prices expected to fall

-- Ronald D. White