Gas prices: Down 15 cents in 8 days

Gasoline prices continue trending lower but remain 31% above year ago levels.

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NEW YORK ( -- Gas prices extended their decline, falling for the eighth day in a row, according to a nationwide survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations.

The average price of unleaded regular dropped 1.5 cents to $3.70 a gallon, from $3.715 a gallon, according to the survey released Thursday by motorist group AAA.

Prices have come way down from the high levels seen mid-summer and are nearing pre-Ike levels of $3.652 a gallon. Gas is now selling for about 41 cents less than the record high price of $4.114 a gallon set on July 17. That's roughly a 10% decline.

Gas prices on the rise following the devastation left behind by hurricanes Ike and Gustav. The summer driving season is over, which could help prices continue to trend downward, but hurricane season is only half over so any big storm could throw that trend in reverse.

Prices have dropped 15 cents over the past eight days and have stayed below the key $4 level for some time now, but they still remain higher from a year ago, when gas was selling for less than $3 a gallon.

Current prices are about 89 cents, or 31%, higher from a year earlier at this time, when gas was selling for $2.81 a gallon. And prices are just roughly 6 cents shy of levels seen before Ike slammed through the Gulf of Mexico.

Prices for gasoline also tend to follow oil prices, which had been moving lower since mid-July amid weakening demand. In fact, crude prices have dropped some 28% from their record settlement of $145.29 a barrel nearly two months ago.

Prices temporarily reversed course on Monday, posting the biggest one-day dollar gain ever. But by Tuesday and Wednesday, the euphoria gave way to more somber trading.

Crude prices were down about $1.63 a barrel to the $104.10 level early Wednesday. Meanwhile, only two states continue to report gas prices above $4 a gallon: Alaska and Hawaii.

Alaska continues to be the state with the most expensive gas prices, at $4.30 a gallon. Oklahoma unseated New Jersey as the state with the cheapest gas prices, at $3.411 a gallon, according to AAA's Web site. Prices in New Jersey, which had recorded the lowest prices for nearly a month, clocked in at $3.424 a gallon. To top of page

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