By Johnny Jackson
AAA Auto Club South officials expect average gas prices may rise slightly, heading into the Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 3-6.
The slight climb in prices, would be partly due to increased confidence among investors in the Crude Oil Market, according to AAA Public Relations Manager Jessica Brady.
Brady said investors rallied late last week, responding to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments that the Central Bank is ready to help stimulate the economy, if the U.S. shows further signs of a weakened recovery.
Brady said the investor rally, despite other poor economic news, helped push the price of crude oil higher by $1.62 on Friday, settling at $75.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).
"Even with the boost in investor confidence, the current condition of the economy and continued growth of U.S. stockpiles of crude oil do not support crude oil trading above $75 a barrel," she added. "Although consumers will see a slight increase in retail gasoline prices this week, it's very possible prices will dip again next week."
The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas remains below the $3 mark, even declining in several areas of the country over the past few weeks, according officials with AAA.
Declines will likely continue with little interruption following the upcoming Labor Day Weekend, according to Brady.
"After the Labor Day Weekend, is typically when we start seeing gas prices decline," said Brady, noting the decreased demand associated with the start of school and the change to less expensive winter blends of fuel.
Average per-gallon gas prices for regular unleaded gas in Georgia have declined by four-cents over the past week, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The report noted Georgians are paying about a dime less per gallon of gas than they did about a month ago, but almost 10-cents more than this time a year ago. Average gas prices in Georgia remained at $2.52 per gallon for regular unleaded Tuesday, with metro Atlantans paying $2.53 per gallon.
Brady said average gas prices, locally, may follow the upward trend of crude oil, but only temporarily. "It is possible we could actually see crude oil prices close Friday at a lower price than last week," she said.
Crude oil traded down by more than $2, at just under $73, on NYMEX during the day Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg web site.
Brady expects the news of lower gas prices will be favorable to Georgians who are expected to hit the state's highways in large numbers this weekend.
"There are going to be a lot of motorists on the roadway this weekend -- about 850,000 Georgia residents," Brady said. "That does not include people driving to the state or driving through the state.
"Many people just want to get that one last three-day vacation in," she continued. "When you look back at 2009, a lot of people missed out on these vacations."