Gas prices in the Charlotte area continue their gradual upward climb, while prices at the national level appear to be tapering off for the moment.
As of early Wednesday, a gallon of unleaded regular gas in the Charlotte metropolitan area was $2.33, up from $2.31 a week ago, according to auto group AAA. Charlotte’s gas is still cheaper than the U.S. average, which is $2.45 a gallon, a fraction of a cent lower than it was a week ago.
The national average price of gas had risen for 40 days straight, the longest streak in four years, before falling slightly over the weekend. Still, drivers nationally are saving $1.04 a gallon now compared with last year, while Charlotte motorists are saving $1.01.
Economists say cheaper prices at the pump translate to more than $750 in savings for each driver over the last half year or so.
It’s normal this time of year to see higher gas prices, AAA said in a recent report, because refineries undergo maintenance as they switch over from winter-grade fuel to summer-grade, which is more expensive to produce.
Gas in North Carolina costs $2.35 on average, up about a penny from a week ago. South Carolina’s gas is the cheapest in the country at $2.16 a gallon, which is also up about a cent from a week ago and about the same price North Carolina gas cost a month ago.
Gas prices have risen in every state and Washington, D.C., over the past month, AAA said, and the national average price has gone up about 43 cents.
Like fuel prices, oil prices remain volatile. The global price of crude oil has been rising and falling as investors speculate about possible production cuts due to oversupply and news of rising global demand, AAA said, and abundant domestic supply keeps the spread between Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate relatively wide.
Historically, when the global market is balanced, the disparity in benchmark pricing is around plus or minus $2 per barrel. Brent crude, the global benchmark, is currently $56.44 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate, the domestic benchmark, costs $48.42 a gallon.