The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended January 27, 2020. Prices fell for both fuels. Gasoline prices fell by 3.1 cents/gallon, while diesel prices fell by 2.7 cents/gallon. The national average price for gasoline was $2.506/gallon, which was 25.0 cents/gallon above the price for the same week one year ago. Until November, gasoline prices had been below their levels from last year. Diesel prices are above last year’s level also, though the margin has been shrinking during the month of January, and the downward price path could soon send diesel prices below last year’s levels. On a national average basis, the retail price for diesel averaged $3.010/gallon, which was 4.5 cents/gallon higher than the price in the same week last year.

Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook

During the week January 21, 2020 to January 27, 2020, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures prices fell sharply by $3.66/barrel (6.2%.) Gasoline futures prices dropped by 8.88 cents/gallon (5.4%.) Diesel futures prices fell by 8.44 cents/gallon (4.5%.) Concerns continue to grow over the outbreak of coronavirus in China, which, despite efforts to contain it, has spread overseas, including to the United States. Commodities and stock prices have fallen. While the relationship between futures prices and retail prices is not immediate or one-for-one, gasoline and diesel retail prices are likely to decline in the coming week.

Retail Diesel Prices

For the current week ended January 27, retail diesel prices fell by 2.7 cents to settle at an average price of $3.010/gallon. Retail diesel prices had been below the $3/gallon mark until the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities in mid-September. They have remained steadily above the $3/gallon mark since then, though prices have fallen significantly this month. Leading up to 2020, between mid-October 2018 and late-January 2019, retail diesel prices fell for fourteen consecutive weeks. During those fourteen weeks, the price decline totaled 42.9 cents/gallon. From February through April, diesel prices crept back up by 20.4 cents/gallon. The month of May brought a modest reversal in the upward trend in diesel prices. During the five weeks of June including the week ended July 1st, diesel prices fell more substantially, declining by 10.9 cents/gallon. For the current week ended January 27, diesel prices fell in all PADDs countrywide. The national average price for the week was 4.5 cents/gallon above where it was during the same week last year.

In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices fell by 2.8 cents to settle at an average price of $3.047/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices fell by 1.3 cents to average $3.119/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices dropped by 2.4 cents to average $3.224/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices fell by 3.4 cents to an average price of $2.914/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 0.3 cents/gallon below their levels for the same week last year.

In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices declined by 3.6 cents to average $2.901/gallon. This was the largest price drop among the PADDs. Prices were 9.5 cents/gallon above their level for the same week last year. PADD 2 joined PADD 3 during the week ended June 17th in having diesel prices fall below $3/gallon. These two PADDs remained the only ones with prices below the $3/gallon mark until this past week, when they were joined by PADD 4.

In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices fell by 2.4 cents to arrive at an average of $2.773/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs, currently 23.7 cents below the U.S. average. Prices were 1.6 cents below their level for the same week in the previous year.

In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices dropped by 2.6 cents to settle at an average of $2.984/gallon. PADD 4 now joins PADDs 2 and 3 in having diesel prices below $3/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 7.3 cents higher than for the same week in the prior year.

In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices declined by 0.9 cents to average $3.565/gallon. PADD 5 prices were 11.7 cents above their level from last year. Until December 2019, PADD 5 had been the only district where diesel prices were higher than they were in the same week last year. Prices rose until this was true in all other PADDs, but prices are now cooling. Prices excluding California eased by 0.8 cents to arrive at an average of $3.198/gallon. This price was 9.9 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices fell by 0.9 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.857/gallon. Until the week ended June 24, California had been the only major market where diesel prices were above $4/gallon, where they had been for nine weeks. California prices retreated below $4/gallon from July through October, rose above $4/gallon again during the first three weeks of November, and eased since then. California diesel prices were 13.1 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.

Retail Gasoline Prices

U.S. retail gasoline prices fell by 3.1 cents to average $2.506/gallon during the week ended January 27. Prices fell in all PADDs. Retail prices for the current week were 25.0 cents per gallon higher than they were one year ago. Until November, gasoline prices had been below their levels of last year. Prices in all PADDs are now higher than they were one year ago.

Gasoline prices hit a peak of $2.903/gallon during the week ended October 8, 2018. Prices then slid downward for fourteen weeks in a row, shedding a total of 66.6 cents per gallon. In the next seventeen weeks, prices marched back up by 66.0 cents/gallon. Prices came very close to the peak they hit in early October. However, the months of May and the June brought an easing of prices amounting to 23.3 cents per gallon. The week ended July 1st reversed that downward trend and sent prices up once again.

For the current week ended January 27, East Coast PADD 1 gasoline retail prices dropped by 4.6 cents to settle at an average of $2.496/gallon. This was the largest price decline among the PADDs. The average price was 16.9 cents/gallon above where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices decreased by 2.9 cents to average $2.515/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices fell by 4.3 cents, arriving at an average of $2.589/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market dropped by 5.4 cents to average $2.344/gallon.

In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices declined by 1.9 cents to average $2.371/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 31.9 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.

In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices dropped by 3.5 cents to average $2.195/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs, currently 31.1 cents/gallon below the average U.S. price. Prices for the week were 23.6 cents higher than for the same week last year.

In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices fell by 2.3 cents to settle at an average price of $2.551/gallon. This week’s PADD 4 prices were 32.0 cents higher than at the same time last year.

In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices fell by 1.4 cents to settle at $3.170/gallon. This was 24.2 cents higher than last year’s price. Prices excluding California eased by 0.7 cents to average $2.907/gallon, which was 22.4 cents/gallon above last year’s price. California prices fell by 2.0 cents to average $3.388/gallon. California prices rose dramatically in late September and early October, attributed to refinery issues, hitting levels above $4/gallon. Prices have been retreating. California prices were 25.8 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year. Until November, PADD 5 had been the only PADD where prices were higher than they were one year ago. Currently, average retail gasoline prices in all PADDs are higher than they were last year.