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Falling gas prices expected to benefit Shore, transportation firms

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Retreating gas prices are expected to continue their decline as summer gets underway, providing relief for Shore-bound motorists and transportation-heavy businesses.

That's according to analysis from AAA Mid-Atlantic and Gasbuddy.com that concluded a pre-Memorial Day spike increase in prices is not a long-term trend.

"I wouldn't be surprised if prices by the Fourth of July are $3.30 or less" in New Jersey, said Gregg Laskoski, petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy.com, a website that collects pricing information from fuel stations nationwide.

Gasbuddy.com said today the average retail gas price in New Jersey is $3.38 a gallon, down 1.1 cents from one week ago, based on a survey of 3,525 gas stations statewide. The current figure also is down 10.2 cents a gallon when compared with one month ago.

Laskoski said oil supply is generally exceeding demand, leading to the pullback. He said these trends coincide with a restrained global economy and mostly falling commodity prices. Crude oil, which has fluctuated around $95 per barrel in recent weeks, has fallen to less than $93 per barrel.

Laskoski said an increase in cheaper crude oil being imported from western Canada bodes well, but the outlook assumes the onset of hurricane season does not cause weather-related damage to oil refineries, which could reverse the price decline.

"In the absence of that, we can see prices moving lower." Laskoski said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic offered a similar outlook. New Jersey regular gas averaged $3.42 a gallon through Friday, the same level as the prior week, while the national average fell 4 cents, to $3.61, over that time.

AAA noted the U.S. gross domestic product grew less than expected in the first quarter, while new unemployment benefits rose last week. That coincides with global concerns that economic growth in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, is losing steam.

AAA-Mid Atlantic spokeswoman Sue Madden said this year's early spring run-up in prices was unusual, and hasn't proved sustainable based on current demand.

The correction "is positive news, because we want everyone to get to the Shore this summer," she said.

The recent drop looms bigger when compared with last year. The New Jersey average was $3.54 one year ago, according to AAA.

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