March 11 - U.S. gasoline prices fell for the first time this year, a welcome break after a jump of almost 17 percent in a nine-week period. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Americans filling up for the work week had a little less pinch at the pump this Monday. According to the Lundberg survey, U.S. gasoline prices fell for the first time this year- down more than 5 cents in the last two weeks, as prices for crude oil fell. Refiners have been cutting wholesale prices and retail gas stations are passing the savings on to consumers. Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com: SOUNDBITE: PATRICK DEHAAN, SENIOR PETROLEUM ANALYST, GASBUDDY.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We are talking about a few pennies. But multiply it across all American motorists that are driving. It amounts to considerable savings. In fact, perhaps a few billion dollars can be saved with each 10-20 cent rollback in gasoline prices. So any savings will add up." And it could add up for businesses who have been hit by consumers who have been cutting back. Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner: SOUNDBITE: MARK VITNER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What folks tend to cut spending on first are things that they can easily do away with and that is restaurant dining and we have seen a bit of a pullback in restaurant in the last few weeks particularly the fast casual segment and if we get a decline in prices, well that will probably come back a little bit." And restaurants are not alone. SOUNDBITE: MARK VITNER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It would also tend to help your discount merchants, folks like Wal-Mart, Target, Family Dollar, Dollar General folks who tend to cater to middle income to lower middle income households." There are a number of other reasons for the drop- including the strong U.S. dollar and increasing U.S. reserves. Lundberg predicts prices will continue to fall- as much as 12 cents or more in the coming weeks. But since crude oil accounts for the vast majority of price at the pump, any unexpected boost in prices could put a stop to the drop.