At $2.58, the national gas price average decreased for the first time week-over-week this year, but a 1 cent increase on Monday signaled it could just be a dip in the road.
Monday’s price is 3 cent less than last week, 6 cents more than a month ago and 30 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA.
GasBuddy.com’s live ticking average posted a 1 cent increase in fuel costs by 5 p.m. Monday.
Motorists can find gas for $2.50 or less at 53 percent of gas stations across the country, AAA points out.
Gas prices in Arkansas have fallen 2.7 cents per gallon in the past week to average $2.35 for a gallon of regular unleaded, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 1,826 gas outlets in Arkansas.
“Gas price averages are less expensive for 78 percent of states compared to last Monday. Motorists filling up in the Midwest, South and East Coast are most likely to see the positive change at the pump,” said AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano. “Unfortunately, it’s too early to know if this one-week decline is the start of a cheaper gas price trend.”
Fewer U.S. oil reserves, more U.S. oil exports, and limited OPEC output has driven prices up in the past few weeks. Demand is also increasing.
According to the latest Energy Information Administration reports, consumer gasoline demand and gasoline inventories hit their highest levels this year.
Gasoline demand registered at 9.1 million barrels per day, a 169,000 barrel-per-day increase year-over year. Total U.S. gasoline inventories built by 3.4 million barrels to total 245.5 million barrels, which is about 1.4 million barrels above the five-year average, AAA states.
Including the change in gas prices in Arkansas during the past week, prices Sunday were 27.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 7.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 3.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 29.4 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
According to GasBuddy historical data, regular unleaded gasoline prices on Feb. 12 in Arkansas have been $2.07 in 2017, $1.49 in 2016, $2.11 in 2015, $3.10 in 2014 and $3.40 in 2013.
"2018's first weekly drop at gas pumps has arrived with the national average losing ground in the last week,” AAA’s latest Fuel Gauge Report states. “As the Dow Jones average swung violently, oil prices lost considerable ground, falling below $60 per barrel for the first time this year.”
The AAA report goes on to note that a “trifecta” of inventory increases — crude oil, gasoline and distillate inventories — all gained to push wholesale gasoline prices down and pave the way for “gas prices to cool off," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
"These factors have opened the door for perhaps a brief window of relief at the pump that may last for several weeks,” DeHaan added. “I'd expect most places would see gas prices decline in the week ahead as a direct result. But don't get too giddy- there are still some gray clouds on the horizon."