The price of oil fell to a three-month low Tuesday as big corporations cut earnings forecasts, raising concerns about economic growth and oil demand.
Benchmark oil dropped $1.98, or 2.3 percent, to finish at $86.67 per barrel in New York. Oil has lost about 6 percent since Thursday, the biggest three-day drop in a month.
That’s starting to mean more relief at the gas pump for U.S. drivers. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped 2 cents overnight to $3.65. The price has fallen 17 cents in the past 12 days.
Consumers were finding prices hovering near $3.40 a gallon in and around Rome on Tuesday.
A gallon of regular gasoline was $3.37 at Market on 2nd, 401 E. Second Ave., where Grant Espy of Rome was at the pumps and glad that the lower prices were keeping some extra money in his pocket.
“It’s kind of unexpected,” Espy said. “It’s nice when times are tough to have a little bit of a break. There’s not really enough of a difference to try and go out of your way for a better price. It’s expensive everywhere.”
Espy said that while the recent trend has been a pleasant sight at the pump, the question still remains whether or not prices continue their downward slide.
“I certainly hope so but I’m always concerned about the global economic situation, and that’s out of our control,” he said.
Gas prices tend to fall at this time of year. Refiners make a cheaper blend of gasoline for the cooler months, and people drive fewer miles.
This year, tepid economic growth means demand could be slower than normal. That’s why gasoline futures have plunged 12 percent in less than two weeks, including a 4.3-cent drop Tuesday to $2.61 per gallon.
The Hi-Tech Express at 4428 Martha Berry Highway in Armuchee had gas at $3.41 a gallon on Tuesday, while the Favorite Market at 2500 Shorter Ave. in West Rome was selling a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.40.
In Lindale, the Kangaroo Express at 3129 Sunset Drive off of Maple Road advertised gas for $3.35 a gallon.
Casey Royal was filling his vehicle at the Kangaroo Express at 1425 Turner-McCall Blvd., where regular gasoline was $3.42 a gallon. He said he believes a combination of the impending presidential election and the current state of the economy is cause for the dip in prices.
“This usually happens just before election time, and it’s just the way our economy is right now,” Royal said.
The Rome resident said that the new lower prices haven’t encouraged him to try and find the cheapest gas when it comes time to fill up.
“I probably don’t pay as close attention to it as I should,” Royal said. “I stop at one of three places normally and that’s it.”
As far as how prices will react when colder weather hits, Royal said he feels they have hit around what they will be for the near future.
“I don’t see it bottoming out and more than it is now,” Royal said. “I expect to see it between $3.30 or $3.50 for the rest of the year until the holidays when it normally goes up some.
“It depends on what happens in the election. That will probably determine some things, but only time will tell.”
Staff Writer Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.