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Gasoline prices tumble at time of typical increase

Gasoline prices traditionally start to rise this time of year, but they’ve dropped about 19 cents per gallon in a month in the Las Vegas Valley.

On Tuesday in its Daily Fuel Gauge Report, AAA said the average price for a gallon of regular, self-serve unleaded gasoline was $3.673 in Las Vegas, down 4.6 cents, or 1.2 percent, from $3.719 a week ago and down about 18.8 cents, or 4.7 percent, from $3.861 a month ago.

The Nevada average per-gallon price was $3.717 Tuesday, down 19.1 cents, or 4.9 percent, from $3.908 a month ago. Las Vegas drivers paid slightly less than the national average of $3.696 per gallon.

A year ago, the local price per gallon was 86 cents lower at $2.813; the statewide average was 84.8 cents lower at $2.869. The national average gasoline price is up about $1 a gallon from $2.698 a year ago.

AAA spokesman Matt Skryja sees the sluggish economy behind the recent drop at the pump, trumping the usual bump during summer.

“The economy is not doing as well as some analysts had thought it would,” Skryja said. “That has helped pull gasoline prices down.”

The recent falloff contrasts with a steep leap earlier this year. From mid-Feburary to mid-March, the average Las Vegas price rose 50 cents a gallon, AAA data show. On March 28, the average local price was $3.715.

The spring surge followed revolutions and protests in the Middle East and North Africa, which sent oil prices surging and stifled production from Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Oil prices peaked at $127 per barrel in April but closed at $99.37 per barrel Tuesday.

Where gasoline prices will go from here is unclear. Skryja noted that OPEC couldn’t agree last week about whether members should set production to meet the rising global demand forecast for the rest of the year. He added that Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, has said his nation will pump as much oil as the market needs.

“Nobody knows what the Saudis will do except the Saudis,” Skryja said.

Contact reporter Matthew Crowley at mcrowley@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0304.

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