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Gasoline prices fall in California, most of U.S.

August 24, 2009 |  3:26 pm

Gasoline prices dribble lower Motorists are paying a little less for gasoline in most parts of the country despite the recent increase in oil prices.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California fell 1.6 cents to $3.03 while the national average fell by 0.9 cent to $2.62 a gallon, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of filling stations, released today. Prices rose only in the Rocky Mountain states, where the average increased half a penny to $2.61 a gallon.

Some analysts were sticking to predictions of a slide in prices by sometime in September to $2.75 to $3.00 a gallon in California and an average of $2.50 to $2.75 a gallon nationally.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J., also said there might be another drop in demand in mid-October if there are few signs of a building economic recovery.

“That will be the first time this year that motorists will be paying more for gasoline than they did last year, and that will provide an interesting gauge of consumer sentiment,” Kloza said.

Oil traders eked out another increase -- the fifth in a row -- in spite the stagnant economy. Light sweet crude for October delivery rose 48 cents, or 0.6%, to $74.37 a barrel today on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil last traded above $75 a barrel in October.

“It’s still being driven by fast money and the Wall Street crowd, but I think we are nearing a peak,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for the Chicago futures brokerage firm PFG Best.

-- Ronald D. White

Photo: A Shell station in Chicago. Credit: Bloomberg