UPDATE: Houston's $4 flirtation

calif_pricies
Sure, the weather’s great, but those prices suck. A motorist fills up in San Rafael, Calif. in June. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Much of the country has topped the $4 per gallon average for all blends of gasoline, but Houston and much of Texas remains just below that threshold … at least for now.
Wednesday’s data from AAA: $3.96 for regular unleaded. (Texas remains one of the few states sub-$4, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.)
$4 may seem like an inevitability, but today’s Department of Energy petroleum status report might help slow down the approach of that dreaded milestone. According to a summary of the report by FBR Capital Markets:

“Wednesday’s DOE petroleum status report, for the week ended July 4, 2008, was negative for the refiners as U.S. gasoline inventories rose above expectations, primarily due to weak demand trends. Over the past four weeks, U.S. gasoline consumption has averaged 2.1% (200,000 bpd) below comparable year-ago levels. With the U.S. average retail pump price currently $4.11/gallon (up from $2.98/gallon this time last year) and the summer driving season half over, we expect that refining margins and stocks will remain weak through the rest of this year.

Can Houston dodge the bullet?
*** UPDATE ***
Thursday’s regular unleaded price in Houston is down slightly: $3.936 per gallon. A trend? An anomaly?

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