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Report Says Fuel Prices Could Start Falling This Month

March 5, 2013

This chart shows fuel price activity between Feb. 2011 and Feb. 2013. Chart courtesy WEX Inc.
This chart shows fuel price activity between Feb. 2011 and Feb. 2013. Chart courtesy WEX Inc.

WEX Inc. (formerly Wright Express) recently released its overview of fuel prices, the WEX Index, in February and its outlook for the near future. The fleet fuel services provider said “petronoia” (i.e. petroleum supply paranoia) caused a runup in prices as traders feared there would not be enough summer blend gasoline to meet increased demand during the driving season. Prices jumped from 3.293 to $3.781 between Jan. 19 and Feb. 22, with 36 consecutive days of increases.

WEX said that the good news for fleet managers is that although crude oil values haven’t changed much, wholesale gasoline prices on the spot markets (the markets where oil companies trade fuel cargoes in bulk) have fallen during the last couple of weeks. Due to this drop, analysts predict that retail prices will follow and that prices will slowly fall throughout March.

Since Feb. 15, wholesale spot prices are down 37 cents per gallon in Los Angeles, down 30 cents per gallon in the Gulf Coast and New York Harbor, and down 40 cents per gallon in Chicago. WEX said experts predict the biggest drops will occur in California and in the upper Great Lakes region though they believe prices will fall in all regions. WEX added that market watchers aren’t sure if $3.78 is the peak price for the year, but it may be the highest price during the first half.

As for diesel prices, WEX said it expects them to fall but not as much. Wholesale diesel prices are only down slightly compared with the drops in gasoline prices.

WEX Inc.   
February 2013
Los AngelesCA$4.25$4.39
New OrleansLA$3.51$3.93
San FranciscoCA$4.12$4.47
St. LouisMO$3.52$3.90
National AverageUS$3.68$4.09
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