National Gas Average Falls to $3.43 a Gallon

PHOTO: Two people pump gas at the Ugas station, March 6, 2011, in Miami.
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Travelers may see an all-time Thanksgiving high for gas even though the national average gasoline price fell 2 cents since last week to $3.43 a gallon for regular, reflecting lower seasonal demand for gas.

The national average is still 6 cents higher than the same period one year ago, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said today.

While most regions in the country saw a weekly decline in prices, the Midwest saw an increase of about a penny to $3.34 for a gallon of regular gas.

"As we approach Thanksgiving, the national average has taken quite a drop, dropping close to 30 cents in the last month," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. "Certainly that has been a nice decrease, but the national average still will likely set an all-time Thanksgiving Day high."

Last year, the national average on Thanksgiving was around $3.34 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.

The short-term decrease is fueled by the usual seasonal downward pressure on gas prices from summer highs.

"In the fall, demand tends to take big hit in cooler months with a drop in demand," DeHaan said.

Also, the EPA relaxes its summertime emissions standards and allows for more butane in gasoline, which tends to be cheaper and evaporates more easily.

DeHaan said conflict in the Middle East isn't affecting gas prices to a large degree yet, but that could change if violence were to lead to larger destabilization in the region.

Foreign leaders have tried to broker a cease-fire after violence escalated between Israel and Hamas last Wednesday.

DeHaan said he does not expect gas prices to decline much further, and they are not likely to follow last year's price drop in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"I don't expect that to occur this year," he said.

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