Fuel prices marching northward.
Retail gasoline prices are averaging $2.66 per gallon, an increase of 12 cents per gallon in the past month and more than 25 cents per gallon higher than last year. California is the highest price state in the lower 48 with an average of $3.50 per gallon, a 50 cents per gallon increase from what it was last year. Missouri is the cheapest state with an average of $2.36 per gallon, but prices are still 20 cents per gallon above 2017 numbers.
Increasing prices this time of year is very common. Refiners need to start switching to the summer grade of gasoline which is mandated by the EPA. The change always sparks fear in traders that there will not be enough product available in the summer to meet the increase demand.
To compound that, crude oil prices have risen to $65 per barrel and U.S. refiners are exporting more crude than they have since 1972.
Most experts predict prices could go up another 10 to 15 cents per gallon before peaking in mid-May. The good news is prices typically fall about 5 to 10% following the spring high.
In the meantime, diesel prices are averaging $3.00 per gallon, about 50 cents per gallon more than last year. Diesel prices are not expected to spike as much as gasoline in the coming weeks, but following crude higher.