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updated 6/7/2010 5:25:08 PM ET 2010-06-07T21:25:08

After dropping 20 cents in the past month, gasoline pump prices are leveling off.

Retail gasoline prices fell 0.3 cent Monday to a national average of $2.724 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

Lower gasoline prices reflect a steep drop in oil prices over the past month. Gas prices topped off at $2.93 per gallon on May 6, three days after oil prices reached an 18-month high of $87.15 per barrel.

Prices may drop a few more pennies at the pump, but the big drops are over unless worries that the country is falling back into recession gain steam, said OPIS' Tom Kloza. Still, by the time summer officially arrives later this month, gas likely will be below where it was a year ago. Right now gasoline prices are 11.3 cents higher than last year.

The last time prices were cheaper than the year before was on Oct. 27.

The government's Energy Information Administration says the national average for retail gasoline prices last week was $2.725 a gallon, down from $2.728 the week before. Pump prices in Gulf Coast states were the lowest in the country at $2.61 a gallon. California drivers saw gas prices rise an average of more than four cents a gallon to $3.07 for unleaded regular.

Kloza said pump prices rose on the West Coast because of a combination of factors; including refineries producing less gasoline and some companies buying back gas at higher prices.

Oil prices drifted lower Monday. Benchmark crude for July delivery lost 7 cents to settle at $71.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in July contracts on Monday, heating oil rose 1.06 cents to settle at $1.9683 a gallon, and gasoline lost a fraction of a cent to settle nearly unchanged at $1.9949 a gallon. Natural gas added 11.9 cents to settle at $4.916 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude gained 3 cents to settle at $72.12 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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