Gas prices sink 5 cents in 2 days

The decline follows eight days of increases. Prices are still 36% above year-ago levels.

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David Goldman, staff writer

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NEW YORK ( -- Gas prices fell for the second-straight day Friday, after rising for eight consecutive days following the refinery-battering Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, according to a nationwide survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations.

The average price of unleaded regular dropped 2.8 cents to $3.807 a gallon, according to the survey released by motorist group AAA.

That decrease followed eight days of increases totalling 18.7 cents. Sunday's jump of 6.2 cents marked the biggest one-day spike for gas prices since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.

As many as 33 oil refineries, which convert crude oil into usable gasoline, had been shut down or operating with reduced capacity in the Gulf region in the wake of the recent hurricanes. That number dwindled to around 18 Friday, restoring the supply of gasoline to retailers and helping bring down the price for consumers.

While prices have remained under $4 for some time, they are still much higher than a year ago, when gas was selling for just $2.79 a gallon. Current prices are about 36% higher from a year earlier at this time.

Still, prices are 30.7 cents, or 7.5%, down from the record high price of $4.114 a gallon set on July 17.

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

Six states reported gas prices above $4 a gallon in the AAA survey: Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

Alaska continues to be the state with the most expensive gas prices, at $4.334 a gallon. The cheapest gas can be found in New Jersey, where gas cost $3.50 a gallon, according to AAA's Web site. To top of page

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