Gas prices averaging under $4 a gallon

Posted July 26, 2008 8:24 a.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2011 2:08 p.m. EDT

— Gas prices slipped to a nationwide average under $4 a gallon on Saturday as a two-week nosedive in crude prices began to ripple out to gas stations.

Stations across the country posted an average price of $3.983 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, according to, a service of AAA, Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. That's down more than 3 cents from Friday and from an all-time high of $4.11 nine days ago.

Statewide, the average price was even lower: $3.948 for unleaded and $4.729 for diesel.

Prices at the pump are poised to dip even further, perhaps as much as 25 cents by Labor Day, AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom said.

"People say typically prices shoot up like a rocket, fall like a feather. But this time ... it looks like it's different," Sundstrom said. "The retail sector is interested in bringing these prices down as fast as they can to stimulate business in their convenience stores."

Triangle gas prices on Saturday were just about even with the statewide average, coming in at $3.943. Fayetteville's average was not far off, either, at $3.952.

The Triad had the state's cheapest gas at $3.901 a gallon, and Wilmington, the most expensive at $3.997.

Nationally, retail prices have fallen about a dime per gallon in just the past week. Sundstrom said such a large decline suggests demand is fading.

"We're seeing a historic change in driving habits," Sundstrom said, although he added, "We still have a long way to go before we get back to the comfort zone, if you will, for the consumer."

Demand worries seemed to dominate the trading floors on Friday as the price of light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $2.23 to settle at $123.26 a barrel in on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's down more than 16 percent from crude's peak at more than $147 a barrel earlier in July.

"There's just nothing sufficiently bullish coming into the market right now to sustain a rally," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates. "We're just seeing a new theme in which demand has become a very important part of the equation."

Analysts, however, note that prices could rebound on even a temporary cut to supply, such as militant activity in the politically volatile Niger delta region of Nigeria or any sign in increased tension between Iran and the West.

"There is a palpable sense of exhaustion amongst traders after the steep sell-off of the past two weeks, and many think we are in for a period of stabilization," said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy. "This notion is being supported by renewed concerns about events in Nigeria and the Middle East."