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Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
Economic factors and a little luck with the weather have paved the way for falling gasoline prices across the country, with the decline expected to continue through Labor Day.
Among the reasons for lower pump prices:
• Plentiful regular unleaded gasoline supplies
• Less demand from motorists, who have mostly completed their summer travel and have their kids back in school
• No maintenance shutdowns at major refineries
• No hurricanes in the southeastern U.S. causing refinery problems or delivery delays
“We are expecting prices to remain very favorable through Labor Day,'' said Rose White of AAA Nebraska.
Regular unleaded was selling for $3.53 per gallon on average across the country Thursday, down 17 cents a gallon from a year ago. In Omaha, unleaded regular was averaging $3.46, White said, a drop of 21 cents from a year ago.
“Omaha prices are typically very competitive,'' she said.
Crude oil was selling for $107 a barrel Thursday, White said, $1 less than its high over the past 52 weeks.
Processed gasoline inventories, however, were up 8 percent over a year ago, she said. The bulging inventories are the main reason behind the price declines at the pump.
“Supplies are very good for regular unleaded right now,'' White said.
Stockpiles have swelled to their highest seasonal level in years, driving down gas prices in some parts of the country to their lowest point for this time of year since 2009.
That year, in August, regular unleaded averaged $2.62 a gallon in Nebraska and $2.55 per gallon in Iowa.
Statewide, Nebraska's average price for unleaded Thursday was $3.56, down 14 cents from a year ago. In Iowa, regular unleaded was selling for $3.47 per gallon, well under last year's price of $3.65.
The past week was a particularly good one for Iowa and Nebraska motorists, White said.
The two states were among 10 that recorded large drops in fuel prices over the week, she said. Indiana was the leader, with an 18-cent drop.
“In Nebraska, gasoline pump prices retreated an average of 7 cents a gallon,” she said, with Iowa seeing a drop of 8 cents a gallon.
This report includes material from Bloomberg News.