AAA NorCal: gas pump price dropped 20-plus cents in every metro area

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – The price at the pump has dropped by double digits in every metro area across Northern California, according to the latest report from AAA Northern California, which tracks gas prices as a service to consumers. According to AAA, all but two Northern California metro areas tracked by the organization had drops of 20 cents or more over the past month. The Golden State’s average for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is $3.59, down 25 cents since last month’s AAA report on November 8. For perspective, that’s 32 cents higher than California’s average price on this date last year. Among all 50 states, California has the third highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline. Hawaii is first and Alaska is second. Northern California gas prices are now averaging $3.58, down 24 cents from last month. In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorists can expect to pay an average price of $3.67, which is a 24-cent decrease. The national average price of $3.27 is down by 14 cents, which is 29 cents more than the national price on this date last year, when it was $2.98. “Global economic issues continue to play a huge role in where oil and gas prices are going,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Matt Skryja. “This is especially true in the Euro zone where sovereign debt concerns remain in the forefront of investors’ minds. Investors have been a large driving force of where prices have been going as their buying behavior can influence the price of commodities, up or down. Poor economic data is often interpreted as an indication of decreasing demand, or the potential of decreasing demand, which causes the price of oil to drop as investors pull back on their buying.” Another recent influence on pricing is the U.S. dollar, which has strengthened relative to foreign currencies. Oil futures are priced in U.S. dollars. As the dollar strengthens, when compared to currencies abroad, the effective purchasing power of those holding foreign currencies decreases. As this happens, oil futures become a less attractive investment, which exerts downward pressure on prices. Additionally, figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that demand for gasoline in the United States is the lowest it has been in the past six weeks. The least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Marysville where regular is $3.42. Of all the metro areas in Northern California where gas prices are tracked by AAA, South Lake Tahoe has an average price of $3.88, the highest in Northern California. This is also the highest price in the lower 48 states. The least expensive gasoline in the country is found in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The average price of gas in that metro area is $2.84. Wailuku, Hawaii, holds the dubious crown for the highest average price in the nation, at $4.38 per gallon.