Gasoline prices still lower as oil prices rise

While gasoline prices have been lower for the last few weeks, a recent spike in oil prices may cause more pain at the pumps soon.

The American Automobile Association said Wednesday’s price of a gallon of regular gas in the Manchester area averged about $2.39, 3 cents less than last week and nearly a dime cheaper than a month ago.

Gas prices in greater Portsmouth, which tend to be a few cents higher than in the Queen City, also trended downward, at $2.44 per gallon, down a penny from last week and 20 cents cheaper than a month ago.

Current premium gas prices in both locations are averaging well over 40 cents cents cheaper, in the $2.68-$2.73, range than regular gas was a year ago at this time at $3.15.

Diesel prices have dropped about 7 cents over the last month to about $2.59 per gallon in Manchester and $2.62 in Portsmouth. Prices in both metro areas are also much lower than last year at this time when prices averaged about $3.81 per gallon.

A number of factors affect the price of gas at neighborhood gas stations, only one of which is the price of oil. But Wednesday’s oil price rise above $75 per barrel — the highest this year — will certainly mean some changes for consumers.

Analysts have pegged the rise on investor optimism of crude demand heading into the Christmas shopping season. The weakened U.S. dollar also contributed to higher oil prices.

The chilly air of recent days also has consumers eyeing their thermostats as well as their wallets.

The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning said home heating oil on Oct. 5, the most recent date averages were examined, was about $2.34 per gallon — well under the $3.40 in October 2008.

Propane and kerosene were averaging about $2.50 and $2.94 per gallon, respectively. Prices for both fuels were also much lower than last year’s, with kerosene over $1.30 less than in October 2008 when prices were a staggering $4.26.

First-tier natural gas is currently about 80 cents per therm and second-tier about 74 cents per therm. These fuels are also much less expensive than a year ago when first-tier was running about $1.53 per therm and second-tier at $1.38 per therm.

The OEP said electricity is current at 14 cents per kilowatt-hour — 2 cents cheaper than a year ago. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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