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Gas prices lower for Thanksgiving travel

(MoneyWatch) Americans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday will benefit from lower gas prices. The national average for regular gasoline is down 28 cents from a month ago to $3.42 a gallon, the AAA reported this week.

"Nationally, the retail price of gas has been falling steadily since mid-September," says Avery Ash, AAA manager of regulatory affairs. He expects that if normal patterns hold, gas prices will continue to decline through the end of the year as a result of lower seasonal demand and cheaper winter blend gas.

But the conflict between Israel and Palestine could offset those normal trends by pushing crude oil prices higher. "While neither Israel nor Palestine is a major oil producer, increased geopolitical uncertainty in the Mideast puts upward pressure on oil prices," Ash says. This effect would be especially big if Iran becomes involved in the conflict with Israel.

In the area hit by Superstorm Sandy, both gas lines and prices are dwindling. AAA notes that gas supply is returning to normal in New Jersey, New York City and Long Island. The price for regular is 16 cents lower than last week on Long Island, 11 cents lower in New York City and eight cents lower in New Jersey. As analysts predicted, lower demand after the storm has pushed prices down as supply returned to normal.

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