Gas prices dropping in Florida following rate hike

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Gasoline prices nationally and in Florida eased back a few cents last week from the previous record highs, with Florida coming in Monday averaging $4.81 per gallon of gas, an 8-cent drop.

The price reduction comes as international markets saw a decline in gasoline futures prices, and market indications suggest the drop could continue significantly, according to AAA – The Auto Club Group. Those markets dipped after the Federal Reserve announced a rate hike and President Joe Biden signaled the potential for oil export restrictions.

Nationally, the average price of a gallon of gasoline dropped below $5, to $4.98, by Monday, AAA reported.

Gas prices ranged from $4.65 to $4.89 in Clay County on Monday.

“Florida drivers are finally catching a break after several weeks of rising gas prices,” said AAA Spokesman Mark Jenkins.

“Gas prices are following oil and gasoline futures prices, which suffered significant losses last week. The losses are being tied to last week’s rate hike from the Federal Reserve bank, sparking fears of a possible recession – which could lower fuel demand. Prices also faced resistance on reports that the Biden administration is considering possible limits on petroleum exports, in (an) attempt to strengthen domestic supply.”

“Petroleum exports have accelerated in recent weeks, as countries compete for fuel in what has become an extremely tight fuel market,” Jenkins added. “The increased competition for fuel has contributed to rising prices.”

On Friday, a barrel of crude was averaging $109.56, about $11.11 less than the week before.

What’s more, the gasoline futures market posted a decline of 38 cents on the week. Combined with the week before, the futures market has declined 46 cents in two weeks.

“If this downward trend holds, gas price drops could accelerate, moving the state average back around $4.50 per gallon,” Jenkins continued. “But this fuel market remains extremely unstable, and things can change very quickly. It’s looking less likely that the state average will surpass $5 a gallon, but the driving season is young.”

In Florida, the best gas prices were found in Pensacola, Orange Park and Middleburg, where it averaged $4.65 a gallon Monday morning. That was followed by Panama City at $4.67, Crestview-Fort Walton Beach at $4.69; Tallahassee at $4.75; Melbourne-Titusville at $4.76; Orlando at $4.78; and Jacksonville at $4.80.

The most expensive Florida gas was found in the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton market at $4.96. That was followed by Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale at $4.88; Fort Myers at $4.87; Miami at $4.86; Sarasota at $4.84; and Tampa and St. Petersburg at $4.81.

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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