Gas sinks to 1-1/2-year low

Prices in 37% decline, as oil futures and fuel consumption continue to fall.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Gasoline prices fell to their lowest level in more than a year and a-half Wednesday, according to a nationwide survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations.

The average price of unleaded regular gas dropped 4 cents to $2.589 a gallon, according to the survey released by motorist group AAA.

Gas has fallen 42 straight days, since Sept. 17, just after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike battered the Gulf coast. The last time gas was this low was Mar. 26, 2007. (See correction.)

Prices are now down 37.1%, or $1.485, from the record high price of $4.114 a gallon set July 17. The average price dropped below $3 a gallon on Oct. 18 for the first time in nearly nine months.

Even with falling prices, demand for gas continues to drop. Americans are driving 5.6% less than last year, according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report. And a weekly MasterCard survey of gas purchases showed motorists consumed 6.4% less gas in the past week compared to a year ago.

Retail gas prices have benefited from lower oil prices. Crude has been in a sharp decline since mid-July amid weakening demand; losing more than half of its value since it reached a record of near $150 just two months ago.

Three states reported gas prices above $3 a gallon in the AAA survey: Alaska, Hawaii and California. But 18 states had gas price averages under $2.50 a gallon.

Alaska continues to be the state with the most expensive gas prices, at $3.622 a gallon. The cheapest gas can be found in Oklahoma, where gas cost just $2.20 a gallon, according to AAA's Web site.

The AAA figures are state-wide averages, and many drivers have reported even lower prices across the country.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when gas prices were last this low. CNNMoney.com regrets the error.  To top of page

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