Gas prices rose Monday for the 48th straight day, matching a record going back to at least the 1970s, with prices now up nearly two-thirds since the beginning of the year even as demand from motorists remains weak.
Yet the oil prices that influence what you pay at the pump are taking a breather from a threemonth rally, with benchmark crude for July delivery fell $1.42 to settle at $70.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude prices have fallen nearly 3 percent over the past two trading days.
The good news for consumers is thatgasolinepricesmaybepeaking in next couple of days. Wholesale gasoline prices in the Chicago area, which serves the upper Great Lakes, have fallen about 30 cents a gallon from just 10 days ago, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. Gas prices in the region have been more expensive than much of the rest of the country.
But money flowing into energy markets continues to confound experts. Even as oil prices fell, naturalgaspricessurgedmorethan 8 percent.
Other than the fact that natural gas prices had fallen so far, there seemed little reason to buy it. The latest index of manufacturing in New York indicated that demand weakened yet again. Manufacturers, major users of natural gas, have slashed thousands of jobs.
Spiking natural gas prices would be a concern for everyone, from the heavy industries that use it to power factories to consumers who use it to heat their homes.
Crude’s upward track for most of the year has been mirrored by the declining value of the dollar. That’s because crude futures are bought and sold in U.S. currency. Crude gets cheaper for many buyers as the dollar falls.
A lot of money has entered the oil market in recent months for that reason and, as would be expected, crude prices fell for the second straight trading day Monday as the dollar rebounded.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 200 points Monday, which also may have pressured oil prices.
Prices at the pump rose 0.6 cents to $2.669 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Services.