FuelUp1 Photo: Sean Kilcarr/American Trucker

Fuel prices mixed week-over-week

Trade-war talk may push up oil prices short term, analysts say.

Diesel prices declined on a regional basis across much of the U.S. this week, according to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), with gasoline prices decidedly more mixed – falling in three areas of country but rising in the rest.

The national average price for diesel in the U.S. dropped 1.5 cents this week to inch below the $3 per gallon mark to $2.992 per gallon, EIA reported. However, that is 41.3 cents higher per gallon compared to the average price for U.S. diesel in the same week back in 2017, the agency’s data noted.

Diesel prices fell in every region of the country but one and stayed above the $3 mark in four of them:

  • The West Coast: down 5/10ths of a penny to $3.392 per gallon
  • With California removed, the average price for diesel on the West Coast stayed flat week-over-week at $3.054 per gallon
  • California: down 8/10ths of a penny to $3.652 per gallon
  • New England: down 1/10th of a penny to $3.126 per gallon
  • The Central Atlantic: down 1.5 cents to $32.40 per gallon
  • The East Coast: down 1.1 cents to $3.046 per gallon

Gasoline prices were more mixed on a regional basis, EIA noted, with the national average climbing 1.2 cents this week to $2.56 per gallon. That’s 21.9 cents higher per gallon compared to the same week in 2017, the agency said.

Gasoline prices declined in only three regions of the country this week:

  • New England: down 7 cents to $2.565 per gallon
  • The Central Atlantic: down 1.7 cents to $2.647 per gallon
  • The Rocky Mountains: down 1.7 cents to $2.437 cents per gallon

By contrast, average gasoline prices increased week-over-week across the rest of the nation, EIA noted.

Going forward, short term oil prices – and thus fuel prices at the pump – may be affected should a trade war develop over a variety of tariffs proposed by the Trump administration.

According to S&P Global Platts, NYMEX crude oil futures settled Monday at $62.57 per barrel (b) roughly midway between the contract's three-year high in late January above $66/b and subsequent low in mid-February near $58/b.

“That push-and-pull has been dictated by the daily news cycle, most recently centering on talk of a trade war following President Donald Trump's announcement of new tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel,” noted S&P Global Platts Oil Futures Editor Geoffrey Craig. “It may take time before the oil market's attention fully returns to fundamentals, which have provided mixed signals of late.”

Going forward, the firm expects U.S. crude oil stocks to rise 2.5 million barrels, refinery utilization expected to be unchanged, gasoline stocks to fall by 500,000 barrels, and distillate stocks – from which diesel is made – to drop by 1.6 million barrels.

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