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Nation’s Gas Prices Continue To Go Down

Oil prices fell Monday following news of an Iraqi weapons inspections agreement that could avert a U.S. military strike on the country.

But even when tensions with Iraq were running high, the problems didn’t translate into higher gasoline prices in the United States.

Gasoline prices have fallen nearly 2 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, a new survey says.

The average cost of gasoline, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.12 per gallon on Friday, down about 1.8 cents from Feb. 6, according to the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gas stations nationwide.

The price drop wasn’t uniform, however. Los Angeles motorists enjoyed a 7-cent decline while prices rose by 9 cents in Wichita, Kan.

“Midwest prices were up on average,” analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday.

Overall, gas prices have declined 20 cents since August. According to the Feb. 20 survey, more than a quarter of the self-service stations now sell regular gasoline for less than $1 per gallon.

The national trend may not last if tensions with Iraq escalate. The United States has threatened to attack that country in retaliation for thwarted attempts to thoroughly inspect the country’s weapon sites.

“Oil prices may have become jaded over years of Middle East uncertainty, but I think they’ll be jolted and move up if there’s a strike,” Lundberg said.

At self-service pumps, regular gasoline was about $1.06 per gallon, midgrade was about $1.17 and premium was about $1.25.

At full-service pumps, regular was about $1.50, mid-grade was $1.59 and premium was $1.66. Monday, light sweet crude oil, a worldwide benchmark, fell 61 cents per barrel in early trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange to $15.66, matching the four-year low reached last week.

Prices were also lower in London, where North Sea Brent blend was down 55 cents at $14.10 per barrel.

The drop also pulled down futures prices for home heating oil and unleaded gasoline on the Nymex.


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