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Gas prices dip below $4.50 per gallon for first time since May

Making sense of the economy amid inflation
Making sense of the economy as inflation soars and gas prices sink 05:19

Motorists around the U.S. continue to get relief fueling up, with prices at pump falling below $4.50 for the first time since mid-May.

The national average for a gallon of regular on Tuesday registered at half a cent under $4.50, according to the American Automobile Association. Gas costs are down more than 10% since peaking at just under $5.02 on June 14, with prices falling for 35 days straight — the longest such stretch since the spring of 2020. 

The auto club attributes the steady decline to a decrease in domestic demand as well as lower prices for crude oil, noting the cost per barrel is in the mid-$90s, down from about $110 two weeks ago.

"Global economic headwinds are pushing oil prices lower, and less expensive oil leads to lower pump prices," Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, said on Monday in a statement. "Here at home, people are fueling up less, despite this being the height of the traditional summer driving season."

The rise in fuel costs is a major factor of inflation, which is rising at its fastest clip in more than four decades. Consumer prices in June were up 9.1% from a year ago, recent federal data show.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on oil and gas companies to pass along lower costs to consumers, noting the industry quickly raised prices after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but had not followed suit as crude costs fall.

"Oil prices have come down 20% from June highs, but prices at the pump have only come down half as much," the president tweeted, calling the scenario "unacceptable." 

Gas prices could soon drop closer to an average of $4 a gallon, a Biden energy adviser told CBS News' Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, noting the administration's decision to tap the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve earlier this year.

"Over the last few months, the president has supplied the U.S. market with a million barrels a day, which is a historic level," said Amos Hochstein, the special presidential coordinator for international energy affairs.

The national average is likely to drop below four bucks a gallon by, or even before, August 14, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan, who on Tuesday noted that $3.99 a gallon remains "the most common" cost across the United States.

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