Gas prices continue tumble

Decline since mid-July tops 41 cents a share, according to an AAA survey.

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By Kenneth Musante, staff writer

The presidential candidate I believe will have the most positive influence on my pocketbook is:
  • McCain
  • Obama
  • Neither

NEW YORK ( -- Gas prices continued their month-long slide Thursday, bringing the total decline in 35 straight days of decline to more than 41 cents a gallon, according to a daily survey of gas station credit card swipes.

Regular gasoline fell 1.5 cents to $3.702 a gallon from $3.717 a day earlier, according to the Daily Fuel Gauge Report from motorist group AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Gasoline prices have fallen 10% since hitting a high of $4.114 a gallon in mid-July, reflecting a 20% decline in oil prices, but remain more than 91 cents higher than they were a year ago.

Crude prices have been sliding in part because of declining gasoline usage.

That decline was reflected in a government report showing Americans drove 12.2 billion fewer miles in June compared to a year ago. While demand for gasoline rose slightly toward the end of July, it remained nearly 5% below where it was a year ago, according to MasterCard's weekly report on gasoline spending.

Diesel: Diesel fuel, which powers most trucks and commercial vehicles, fell to $4.337 a gallon from $4.359 a day before, according to AAA.

Diesel's use in shipping and transportation means rising prices can impact operating costs, which companies then pass along to buyers by raising prices.

Some organizations, such as the U.S. Postal Service, which operates more than 219,000 vehicles and consumes nearly 121 million gallons of fuel a year, have been forced to cut costs and jobs.

Ethanol: The price of E85, an 85% ethanol blend, fell to $3.023 a gallon on average from $3.035, AAA reported.

Expensive petroleum-based fuels have helped raise the profile of corn-based ethanol, which can substitute for gas in specially configured "flex-fuel" vehicles.

However E85 fuel is difficult to find outside the corn-producing midwest region, and is not sold in some states. It also generally burns less efficiently than gasoline.

According to AAA estimates, drivers of flex-fuel vehicles running E85 would have to pay the equivalent of $3.978 a gallon to get the same mileage as gasoline.

State prices: Gasoline remained above an average of $4 a gallon in three states, according to the AAA survey.

Drivers in Alaska, the most expensive state, saw prices fall to $4.549 a gallon, while those in Hawaii saw prices tick up slightly to $4.436 a gallon, and Utah motorists paid around $4.006 a gallon.

The cheapest average gas prices were found in Missouri at $3.467 a gallon, followed by South Carolina at $3.48.

Diesel prices were most expensive in Hawaii, with drivers paying an average of $5.313 a gallon. Diesel was cheapest in Missouri, where prices fell to an average of $4.061. To top of page

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