It's the first week in several that there's been a notable change in the national average, and even saying that is a push- but there's likely more forward momentum to come in the week ahead.
The U.S. national average rose to $3.285/gallon today, up from $3.266/gallon a week ago as oil prices rose to over $99/bbl late last week on economic optimism. By next Monday, it's likely we see a national average in the $3.30s/gallon as higher oil prices filter down to retail pumps nationally.
Montana remains the cheapest state for gasoline, averaging $3.02/gal, while South Carolina comes in at $3.05/gal, Texas at $3.06/gal, Utah at $3.07/gal, and Oklahoma at $3.07/gal. These states have consistently seen low prices in the last few weeks thanks to lower gasoline taxes than average, as well as being located near key infrastructure.
Prices saw an ultra rare weekend jump throughout the Great Lakes, where prices in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin saw jumps. Prices at my local station here in Chicago jumped 20-cents per gallon during the day Saturday, resulting in a price of $4.09/gal for the required premium grade my car needs- the first time in months I've paid over the $4/gal level.
While there's nothing to say the spring run up in prices is here, it certainly looks that way. Spot gasoline prices, which influence wholesale prices, rose last week country-wide. Areas of California area already switching to summer gasoline, and refineries across the U.S. are beginning their maintenance, which results in less gasoline produced, which supports slightly higher prices.
Motorists across the country should be expecting slightly higher prices this week. Will it last? It's not a complete certainty yet, but last year, we did see prices begin to march higher in February, so be prepared.