Good news at pump for holiday drivers

This week, many families will load up the car and drive hundreds of miles to visit relatives. And they may have one more reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving: cheaper gas prices.

The average US pump price has fallen 35.9 cents since last year to $1.19 a gallon - the lowest average since August 1999. The prices reflect lower crude oil prices, which have fallen by nearly a third since Sept. 11, the American Automobile Association says. Fears of attacks, combined with the economic downturn, have cut into travel demand and fuel consumption, allowing America's gas supplies to grow and prices to fall.

The lowest prices last week were in the Southwest, where gas averaged $1.11 a gallon, while the highest were in the West, at $1.48 a gallon, according to the AAA daily survey of more than 60,000 service stations.

Prices could rebound, however, if OPEC cuts its crude-oil output. In meetings in Vienna last week, OPEC made a conditional promise to cut output by 1.5 million barrels per day, which it says is necessary to stabilize the plunging oil prices, but only if non-OPEC producers share the burden by making a deep cut of their own. OPEC delegates warned of a price war unless countries such as Norway, Mexico, and Russia also decrease their output by 6.5 percent.

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