By Mia Gindis | Bloomberg
California pump prices fell below $5 a gallon for the first time since July, following national levels lower but still the highest in the country.
Regular gasoline costs an average of $4.98 a gallon in the Golden State after topping $6 in September, according to data from the American Automobile Association. An initial drop in prices was prompted by Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to waive an anti-smog rule, allowing for the use of cheaper winter-grade fuel – which can be made from a wider, less costly pool of components – earlier than usual.
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Still, California’s stricter environmental compliance is keeping gasoline more than $1 more than the national average, which is $3.308 per gallon, the lowest since January. National pump prices have fallen for 53 straight days.
Demand hit a 25-year seasonal low in October and remains below the 5-year average with previously sky-high prices and inflation pushing down on discretionary driving. Crude futures, which have direct relationship with pump prices, are down 5% for the year following a run of four weekly losses after the Israel-Hamas war premium faded and supply concerns returned to the fore.
The US Thanksgiving travel period might provide a momentary tailwind to demand. It’s slated to be the third-highest in records going back to 2000 with 49.1 million Americans expected to drive, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022.
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