Gas prices in Tampa took a break from their relentless race upwards this spring, and have actually started to fall a bit.
A gallon of regular unleaded now averages $3.864 in Tampa, down about 3 cents from $3.890 last week, and the price is starting to approach last month's price of $3.798.
Across Florida, the average price now stands at $3.917, about the same as last week's $3.925. A month ago, the price was $3.824.
At one point this spring, eight gas stations in Tampa Bay were charging more than $4 per gallon for customers using credit cards.
The drop in price locally comes as economists say relatively higher gas prices are having a measurable impact on the economic recovery, by costing everyone more at the pump and by pushing up the price of food, clothes and other manufactured goods.
Amid a mix of pressures, the week ahead could see relatively flat prices, said AAA South spokeswoman Jessica Brady in Tampa.
Positive economic news in Europe could prove to increase demand for oil there, she said, and oil prices are facing upward pressure on concern the flooding of the Mississippi River would damage oil wells and refineries in Louisiana.
"Retail gas prices still remain relatively unchanged from last week," Brady said, "however with two concurrent weeks of oil trading below $100, consumers should start to see gas prices drop—albeit slow and steady."
Though oil is traded on a world market, and there may be little that politicians can do to directly impact the price of gasoline, some are trying.
Last week, President Obama instructed the Interior Department to speed the process of granting leases for drilling in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, and extend oil company leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, where work was delayed due a moratorium on drilling after the BP oil-spill disaster.
The U.S. dollar, which is used to make most oil purchases world wide, has also gained some strength recently, meaning the same number of dollars can buy a greater volume of oil, helping ease some of the price-per-barrel shock in the market.
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