AAA: Average gas prices to slowly slide downward

AAA officials expect gas prices will maintain current averages in metro Atlanta and across the nation, at least for the next week.

"Consumers can expect to see retail gas prices decrease this week, and it's likely prices will continue to drop next week," said Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South. "Increased inventories, coupled with a strong dollar and reduced demand, should push crude prices lower and keep gas prices at bay."

Brady added that investors are less concerned the protests in Egypt will spread to neighboring countries, or disrupt oil transports along the Suez Canal, after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced his resignation, which put both protesters and investors at ease, and lowered the price of crude oil to around $85 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange to start the week.

"Now that the concern over Egypt is somewhat settled, the price of oil will begin to trade at prices based on supply and demand, economic conditions, and the value of the U.S. dollar," said Brady.

The AAA spokeswoman acknowledged crude oil inventories continue to increase with reduced demand, and the U.S. dollar also has gained momentum and maintained its strength against other currencies like the euro. The combination, she continued, will help keep the price of crude oil down below $90 a barrel, as well as keep retail gas prices down.

AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report revealed the national average price for a gallon of gas remained unchanged, as the Georgia average increased 5-cents to $3.06 last week. The national average price of regular unleaded gas has held steady at around $3.12 per gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Atlanta during the past week, prices on Feb. 13, were 59.1-cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago, and are 5.3-cents per gallon higher than a month ago, according to Patrick DeHaan, the senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

DeHaan noted the national average has increased 4.9 cents per gallon during the last month, and stands 50.4-cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

AtlantaGasPrices.com reported a $2.89 per gallon price tag, among its least expensive prices at metro Atlanta gas stations, and $3.39 per gallon on the other extreme for prices.