New York CNN —
Prices at the pump continue to plunge, dropping the US average for gasoline below where it was when Russia invaded Ukraine.
That is down about 12 cents in the past week and 29 cents in the past month.
This week marks the first time since February that the national average has fallen below $3.50 a gallon. Gas prices were climbing in January and February as investors worried about disruptions from a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A range of factors have led to the drop in gas prices – and not all of them are positive. Fears of a potential recession and concerns about China’s Covid lockdowns have hurt energy prices. Other factors include fewer than expected disruptions to Russia’s oil flows and the record-setting release of oil by the Biden administration from emergency reserves.
Although gas prices are still relatively high for this time of the year, they have also completely reversed the spike caused by the war in Ukraine. That spike worsened inflation and set off inflation alarm bells around the world.
The national average is now down by $1.55 since hitting a record high of $5.02 a gallon this past June.
Looking ahead, some forecasters see gas prices continuing to dip, although there remains uncertainty over where oil prices go from here due to questions about OPEC policy and China’s Covid lockdowns.
Andy Lipow, president of consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates, says the national average for gasoline could drop to $3.28 by Christmas. That would mean lower prices this Christmas than last.
GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices, is even more optimistic, saying this week that gas prices could drop below $3 a gallon by Christmas.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said that would be a “huge gift to unwrap for motorists after a dizzying year at the pump.”