Gasoline prices drop for the first time since January

By Carol Christian
Houston Chronicle Staff Writer

Gasoline prices dropped for the first time today since late January.

The average U.S. gasoline price dropped a third of a penny per gallon to $3.76, marking an end to the 37 daily gas rise that started on Jan. 27, according to the Oil Price Information Service. During the gasoline hike, the national average gasoline price grew by 38 cents.

In Houston, gasoline prices remained steady today at $3.57, a rise of 2 cents over last week. Houston drivers are paying on average 18 cents more than they were at the beginning of February, according to AAA gas gauge.

Since the New Year, gasoline prices have been rising steadily, growing by more than 48 cents. Analysts have warned gasoline prices are likely to hit the $4-mark by Memorial Day weekend, prompting politicians to debate ways to reduce the cost to consumers.

Tom Kloza, the chief analyst for Oil Price Information Services, said today’s drop — while incremental — is probably good enough to send people scurrying back to the dealerships or topping off their gas tanks.

The less-than-a-penny increase might seem insignificant, but Kloza said it translates into $1.15 overnight savings for American drivers.

Diesel, however, didn’t get the same good news.  Prices are rose for the 39th straight day to $4.08, up 26.19 cents per gallon since Dec. 31.