Pump prices falling; oil drops below $97
NEW YORK — As the week went along, Americans’ commutes got cheaper.
The average price for a gallon of gasoline fell by 6 cents from Monday through Friday, to a two-month low of $3.51 per gallon.
The average fell at least a penny in 48 states, with only Hawaii prices gaining a fraction and Idaho’s staying flat.
The steepest declines were in Indiana (15 cents) and Michigan (14 cents).
A number of refineries that suffered outages in the Midwest in the past month or so returned to operation, easing a shortage of gasoline and dropping prices.
The average price has fallen 40 cents in both Michigan and Wisconsin since June 1.
Meanwhile, the price of oil fell Friday for the first time this week, and it finished the second quarter of the year with a slight loss.
Benchmark oil for August delivery fell 49 cents to end at $96.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
For the April-June quarter, oil slipped 67 cents, although it rose 11 percent from a low of $86.68 on April 17.
The decline at the gas pump is good news for drivers as the July Fourth holiday approaches.
Most should pay less than on Memorial Day, when gas averaged about $3.65.
But this year’s June swoon isn’t as large as last year’s — by Independence Day in 2012, the average price was $3.34.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices for oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, fell 66 cents to $102.16 a barrel.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
• Heating oil fell 1 cent to $2.88 a gallon.
• Natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.
• Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.75 a gallon.