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AAA says 80% of US sees gasoline at or below $2.50/gal

Houston — US drivers can buy regular grade gasoline for $2.50/gal or less at four out of every five fuel stations in America, automotive club AAA said Tuesday.

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In in a company blog post, AAA said the average US pump price for regular grade gasoline averaged $2.39/gal as of Tuesday, 8 cents/gal above last week's average, 12 cents/gal above the average from a month ago, and 12 cents/gal below the average from the same week in 2018. AAA added that while prices remain below their levels from 2018, 40 US states saw week on week increase in gasoline prices from last Tuesday.

"On average, gas prices this year are 11 percent cheaper than the first two months of 2018 in part due to mostly cheaper crude oil prices so far this year," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokeswoman on the Tuesday blog post. "Even though pump prices are on the rise, the increase has been countered by mostly decreasing demand, leading to the majority of people still paying less than $2.50."

AAA said that pump prices around the country have increased slightly as US refineries have started their spring turnaround repairs, which has limited new fuel production.

For example, on Monday, the CEO of CVR Energy, Dave Lamb, said that company's 74,500 b/d refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, is already completing planned seasonal turnaround repairs, which are expected to last until about March 15.

The most recent data from the US Energy Information Administration shows that USGC refineries-- which make up nearly half of US capacity-- operated at an average of 87.8% of total capacity last week, the lowest that figure has been since the week ended February 23, 2018. This is at least partly attributable to increased refinery repairs, though weak gasoline margins are probably another factor.

While US refinery runs appear to be slowing, the market remains well supplied. US gasoline stocks were last reported at 256.847 million barrels, not far from the all-time high of 259.615 million barrels reported in January and more than 7.5 million barrels above their level from the year-ago week.

--Seth Clare, seth.clare@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com

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