Auto Club: 2003 Ends With Lower Gas Prices

Weekly Fuel Prices Report

National Average Begins Expected Downward Trend

(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 31, 2003) — For the fifth straight week, the average price of gasoline dipped last week across Southern California. At the end of the year, the price of regular gasoline in the L.A. — Long Beach area is 8.5 cents higher than where it began 2003, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch. The national average for gasoline declined by one-tenth of a cent.

Currently, the average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in the Los Angeles — Long Beach area is $1.626, which is 1.5 cents lower than last week. This price is 10 cents lower than last month and 8.5 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the price is $1.656, which is seven-tenths of a cent below last week's level, 9 cents below last month and 5.1 cents higher than last year. Motorists in the central coast pay an average price of $1.747, which is two-tenths of a cent lower than last week's price, 4 cents below last month and 13.2 cents higher than last year.

"The downward trend we've seen for 5 weeks could last for 1–2 more weeks, but by mid January prices could turn upward," said Carol Thorp, Auto Club spokesperson. "Refineries in California begin preparations for making summer grade gasoline earlier than anywhere in the country, so we can expect prices to start climbing in 2–3 weeks."

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline at metropolitan destinations throughout the nation. Average prices as of 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1:

Local and Nearby Areas Regular Change from last week Record Price
Los Angeles–Long Beach$1.626-$0.015 cents$2.167 (3/22/03)
San Diego$1.656-$0.007 cents$2.211 (3/20/03)
Santa Barbara–Santa Maria–Lompoc$1.747-$0.002 cents$2.233 (8/27/03)
National Average$1.484 -$0.001$1.737 (8/30/2003)
Other Areas Regular Change from last week Record Price
New York$1.744+$0.004$1.968 (9/6/2003)
Washington, D.C.$1.584+$0.010$1.797 (5/16/2001)
Boston$1.535-$0.006$1.812 (9/3/2003)
Philadelphia$1.533-$0.001$1.807 (9/3/2003)
Atlanta$1.353+$0.008$1.589 (3/18/2003)
Miami$1.510+$0.010$1.761 (3/18/2003)
Chicago$1.572-$0.005$2.142 (6/19/2000)
Detroit$1.472+$0.002$2.137 (6/20/2000)
Kansas City, MO$1.383+$0.010$1.790 (6/21/2000)
St. Louis$1.372-$0.006$1.767 (5/17/2001)
Denver$1.426-$0.012$1.780 (6/5/2001)
Dallas$1.422+$0.002$1.666 (5/12/2001)
Houston$1.391+$0.003$1.639 (5/12/2001)
Salt Lake City$1.501-$0.004$1.789 (9/4/2003)
Las Vegas, NV$1.605-$0.006$2.063 (3/25/03)
Phoenix, AZ$1.493-$0.006$2.146 (8/26/03)
Seattle$1.515 -$0.001$1.969 (9/4/2003)
San Francisco $1.750$0.000$2.276 (3/19/2003)
Honolulu$2.013+$0.003$2.054 (10/2/2003)

The national average price of regular gasoline dipped slightly last week, with most areas of the country registering only tiny changes up or down. Nationally, the trend for the next couple of weeks is expected to be for slightly lower prices. In terms of crude oil prices, the average price for 2003 was near $30 per barrel, which is the highest annual average price in 20 years.