The average price for a gallon of regular in the Houston area is $3.09. That's down almost four cents in the last week, and twelve cents in the last month. But it's still 45 cents per gallon higher than this time last year. Patrick DeHaan is a senior analyst at the fuel price tracking website GasBuddy.com. He says one reason we've seen several weeks of falling pump prices is the ongoing uncertainty over the European economy.
"There's a possibility that with some banks in the U.S. having exposure to that mess, that some banks may start to be in dangerous territory. And that could certainly derail an improving US economy."
But DeHaan is quick to add that today's news of exceptionally strong retail sales over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend could slow, or even stop, the decline in pump prices.
"Because, certainly, people (are) out spending money. They're filling their tanks to go spend that money. And we could see a higher demand from that good piece of news. Basically, if people are out spending, the economy is doing pretty good, and that generally means higher gas prices."
DeHaan predicts the average price of gasoline in the Houston area will fluctuate between $3.05 and $3.30 per gallon for the rest of the year. He says drivers may find a random station or two offering regular below $3.00, but he doesn't expect the average to dip that low. Local prices are running about 20 cents below the national average.