Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fuel Prices Falling

While Californians are starting to see the threes become twos in their gas prices, some analysts think the trend may be short-lived.

Cheaper gasoline and oil showed up at service stations and futures markets Monday, but analysts warned that the relief probably would be temporary.

California's average gasoline price fell nearly 8 cents a gallon and the U.S. average dropped more than 12 cents in the last week, a government survey found Monday, as the U.S. benchmark grade of crude oil moved lower for the fifth session.

Analysts attributed the gasoline decline to higher imports, which were attracted by record prices, and to lower fuel demand, which always happens at this time of year but was accelerated by consumers' pump-price sticker shock. Oil prices slumped on relief that Hurricane Wilma bypassed the important Gulf of Mexico energy production region, traders said.

Although analysts predicted that gasoline could drop soon to prices not seen since last spring, they added that demand would rise again early next year and push pump prices up. Similarly, the oil price break will end as heavy winter use of petroleum products strains a market that is trying to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.