After a 15% spike from late August through early September, gas prices have started what has been a welcome retreat from their recent hurricane highs. According to AAA, the national average price of gasoline currently stands at $2.58 per gallon, which is down close to 4% from the recent high on 9/10 but still up 10% versus where it was before Hurrican Harvey started spinning in the Atlantic. Even after the recent spike, though, the national average price of a gallon of gas never quite made it to the highs we saw back in early 2015 before prices really began to crater and bottomed out at $1.70.
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The table below compares the YTD change in gas prices this year to where prices were at the same point in prior years dating back to 2005. The recent surge in prices also wasn’t enough to push the YTD gain to an above average move. While prices so far in 2017 are up 10.1%, that is well below the average move of 17.4% for all years since 2005 and ranks as the sixth smallest YTD gain over the last thirteen years.
The chart to the lower right compares this year’s YTD change in gasoline prices and compares it to a composite of how average prices trend throughout the year going back to 2005. If the rest of this year follows the typical seasonal pattern, you can expect the recent pullback in gas prices to continue throughout the rest of the year.
Finally, the chart below shows the y/y change in gas prices over time. Earlier this year, the y/y change in prices spike to 34.6% as the base effects from the 2016 lows reached their peak. In the most recent leg higher, the y/y change in prices peaked at just 16.5% highlighting how in the perspective of longer-term history, the most recent hurricane-induced surge in gas prices wasn’t that large.