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Gas prices at two-year high heading toward the holiday

Rochesterians planning to travel for Memorial Day Weekend will pay the highest prices at the pump since 2015, AAA Western and Central New York has forecasted, and nearly 40 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home May 25 to May 29.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” AAA vice president of travel Carol DiOrio said. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

Rochester area drivers also continue to pay more for gas than drivers nationwide. The national average for a gallon of gas this week was $2.33. In April, the national average of regular unleaded gas reached its 2017 high, AAA reported.

Compounding that, Americans pay $72 billion in gasoline taxes annually, GasBuddy.com reported. Although the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon has not increased since 1993, politicians have renewed talks of upping that in recent years.

The average American will spend nearly $300 on gas taxes this year, while households with two vehicles will spend nearly $600. But in New York—where the combined local, state and federal gas tax is 61.94 cents per gallon, the fourth-highest nationwide—drivers pay about $371.64 in gas tax annually.

While gas prices have declined slightly in Rochester in the last few weeks, drivers here continue to pay more than they did a year ago. This week the average price of a gallon of gas here was $2.41, compared with $2.35 a year ago, a weekly report from GasBuddy.com shows.

“The national average gas price has again declined in the last week, but the road ahead may be a bit bumpier,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst. “While the national average fell, several states in the Great Lakes saw average prices rise thanks to a midweek rally in oil markets that saw oil prices sneak in a net gain for the first week in several.”

That increase may impact prices in the week ahead, DeHaan added.

Data from the Energy Information Administration showed a larger than expected decline in oil and gas inventories, while OPEC continues to debate extending its crude oil production cuts, both affecting prices at the pump.

“Watch both of these factors this week to get a taste for where prices will go to start the summer driving season,” DeHaan said.

GasBuddy suggest you fill your tank on Monday, when gas prices tend to be a little lower. A weekly report from the EIA issued on Wednesdays could be to blame for that.

“Since commodities trading isn’t active over the weekend, it typically allows stations to ‘let it ride’ over the weekend, culminating in lower prices by the start of the work week,” DeHaan said.

If every U.S. motorist bought gas on Thursday for an entire year, GasBuddy contends, they would collectively spend an extra $1.1 billion, versus filling up on Monday.

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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