Lundberg in

CSP, July 26, 2021:
Gasoline Price Rises Petering Out, Crude Willing
Retail margin awarded one-penny gain

CSP, July 12, 2021:
Refiners, Retailers Took Their Nickel Back
Gasoline price now $3.21 per gallon

CSP, June 28, 2021:
Crude Oil: What, Me Worry?
Downstream gasoline margins suffer, motorists limp to pump

CSP, June 14, 2021:
Bounty Upstream, Deprivation Downstream
Price resistance allowed gasoline up 2 just pennies

CSP, May 24, 2021:
An 8-Penny Pittance
Gasoline prices up on Colonial, corn

CSP, May 10, 2021:
Low Gasoline Margin Unsustainable
Pump price now $3.02, more to come

CSP, July 26, 2021:
Gasoline Price Rises Petering Out, Crude Willing
Retail margin awarded one-penny gain

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The U.S. average retail price of regular-grade gasoline increased a further 1.54 cents per gallon (CPG) in the past two weeks, to a grandiose $3.2208 per gallon, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets. The price is higher than its year-ago point by 97.55 CPG.

This rise is the smallest seen so far this year, except for the two-week lull when the price did not change back in late March. The main reason for the small blessing is that crude oil prices have been gyrating in both directions lately, down as well as up. If they show little change near term, then there is a chance retail gasoline prices may show very little change or even drop.

The gasoline supply-demand balance is heavy on supply, light on demand: stocks more than ample, refining capacity use rate high, with demand kicked down versus the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. Right now, with last week's oil price retreat possibly burning a hole in refiners' pockets, wholesale gasoline price trimming may ensue. There has already been some rack price cutting in most regions, especially unbranded, and even retail price declines in several markets around the country.

Refiners have far wider gasoline margins than usual and may soon see themselves cornered into forfeiting some.

Medium term, into late August and beyond, demand weakness may become more stark depending upon government response to fears of covid variants and upon consumer response to employment options plus the higher pump prices. If so, then a slight downturn in pump prices may develop into an appreciable decline. That's if crude oil prices do not mount a substantial incline.

The nation's gasoline retailers did enjoy a margin gain in the past two weeks, but it was a paltry 0.92 CPG. Current regular grade retail margin of 24.90 CPG is too narrow to cover the mounting regular bills, bigger ticket items, and some take home pay from profit, so retailers will need to attempt gasoline margin expansion when they can.

Click here for previous Lundberg Survey reports in CSP Daily News.

Trilby Lundberg is publisher of the Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets. Lundberg Survey Inc. is based in Camarillo, Calif.

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