WASHINGTON — The retail price of gasoline fell by less than a penny last week to average $1.91 per gallon nationwide, the Energy Department reported Monday.
The government survey said the average price nationwide of regular-grade unleaded gasoline dropped 0.2 cent last week to $1.909 per gallon. Prices are 27.1 cents higher than a year ago.
Gasoline prices rose more than 7 percent in January, which typically is one of the slowest driving months of the year. That’s leading experts to predict pump prices may surge past last year’s record highs when highway travel picks up late in the spring.
Last year, the average price peaked above $2 a gallon in May, just before Memorial Day, which is the unofficial start of the summer driving season. Analysts say average gasoline prices could surpass $2.15 and even run as high as $2.50 this year, but they expect those highs to be short-lived.
Pump prices are highest on the West Coast, averaging $2.005 per gallon, and cheapest on the Gulf Coast, averaging $1.833 per gallon. In the Midwest, gas averages $1.897 per gallon.
One of the key factors behind the high price of gasoline is expensive oil — the result of strong demand and geopolitical uncertainties.
The price of light crude for March delivery fell $1.20 Monday to settle at $45.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil is roughly 40 percent more expensive than a year ago.
In other Nymex trading, November gasoline futures fell 4.95 cents to $1.211 per gallon.
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