Gas Is Cheaper Than Two Weeks Ago, but Year-End Costs the Most Since 2014

Hurricanes, steady demand and growing exports helped flip historical trends in fuel costs in 2017, AAA says.

Budget 2017
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Motorists with shorter-term memories are feeling less pain at the pumps, with prices trending lower in recent weeks across most of the country.

But the bigger picture has prices poised to finish the year as the most costly in three, with a gallon of gasoline currently averaging $2.51, which is 38 cents more than it cost this time last year, according to AAA.

While the travel organization expects a 10-day decline in prices to continue in coming weeks, motorists will still pay the highest November and December gas prices since 2014. 

“Despite a forecasted 5 to 20 cents decrease in coming weeks, motorists will see higher than expected December gas prices – especially compared to year-end prices from 2015 and 2016,” Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson, said in a statement. “Driving factors for cheaper gas prices this winter include colder temperatures, the threat of inclement weather and online shopping.”

The year had gas prices veering from historical trends, AAA said, noting that costs tend to be relatively cheap around Labor Day amid reduced demand. But this year, the usual factors in play were offset by the impact of two major hurricanes, steady consumer demand and ongoing growth in gasoline exports.

As a result, the usual trend of the summer driving season bringing the highest gas prices of the year and the end of the year bringing the cheapest was not in play in 2017. The year's high of $2.67 came on September 11, while its low of $2.23 took place on July 5.

Drivers can anticipate prices at the pump to continue to trend lower the first few months of 2018, with the national average potentially in the $2.25-$2.35 range by February, AAA said. Longer-term factors are contingent on factors including the outcome of an OPEC's meeting later this month.