Break in prices for Utahns

Jun 14 2011 - 11:13pm

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AAA Utah said Tuesday that Utah gas prices are the ninth-cheapest in the nation and have gone down 12 cents since May's fuel price report.

Nationally, the falling gas prices combined with lower wholesale prices for food to give Americans more money to spend on other things. The average Utah price is $3.62 a gallon for regular gasoline, which is still 67 cents more than a year ago. Of the cities surveyed, Salt Lake City, Moab and Vernal tied for the highest average of $3.74 a gallon; St. George was cheapest at $3.54.

The national price averages $3.70, which is down 25 cents from the previous month but $1 more than the average national price a year ago.

In the news release, AAA of Utah spokesman Matt Skryja said demand has dropped in the past week after steadily rising for the previous four weeks.

The biggest factor affecting prices is uncertainty about where consumer demand and oil supply will go in the second half of the year.

In a meeting last week in Vienna, he said, the members of the Organization of Petrolium Exporting Countries were unable to decide whether members should increase oil production.

Saudi Arabia then announced it will meet the needs of the global market regardless of the lack of agreement, which AAA said should push international oil prices down.

OPEC controls 79 percent of global oil reserves and does 44 percent of the world's crude oil production. The U.S. imports almost 6 million barrels of oil a day from OPEC, a third of its consumption.

Food prices at the wholesale level fell 1.4 percent, the Labor Department said. It was the largest drop since last June.

About 40 percent of that decline resulted from declines in vegetable and fruit prices.

The drop in food prices followed harsh winter freezes, which had driven up prices of tomatoes and other vegetables in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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