Gas prices falling. Will hurricane Sandy reverse that?

Gas prices saw the biggest decline in four years last week and continue to fall this week. Hurricane Sandy could disrupt East Coast refineries for a time, but by the holidays, prices are expected to go lower still. 

Ramon Espinosa/AP
A driver maneuvers his classic American car along a wet road as a wave crashes against the Malecon in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. Although gas prices have been falling, hurricane Sandy could raise them temporarily if it disrupts refineries along the East Coast.

The feeling of relief is palpable on Twitter:

" Lovin these gas prices!!"

"Gas prices just keep getting lower and lower! Yesss!"

" I can't remember the last time gas prices were this low."

This past week, gas prices fell 12 cents, the largest weekly decline since 2008, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

This week, gas prices are falling even more – down 9 cents since Monday, putting the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.58.

Hurricane Sandy could change that, at least temporarily on the East Coast, if as forecasted it slams into Delaware and disrupts refinery operations in the region. Gasoline futures were up two cents a gallon late Friday morning on that possibility.

For now, though, the trend at the pump continues down as supplies are high and demand subdued. Some 6 percent of gas stations are selling gas below $3.25 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, a group of local websites that track gasoline prices. Some 23 percent of stations are selling gas for less than they did a year ago, especially in the Great Lakes states.

Even if Hurricane Sandy stalls East Coast refinery operations for a few days, the overall trend for the rest of the year looks likely to continue downward. Despite stronger than expected growth in the third quarter, US benchmark oil prices had fallen below $86 a barrel in late morning trading.

"AAA expects that gas prices across the country will continue to drop leading up to Election Day and will move even lower approaching the end of the year, barring any unforeseen forces," the coalition of motor clubs said Monday in its weekly report.

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