Gas prices continue downward trend

State average is now $3.62 a gallon; $3.44 in Sacramento area
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Californians are experiencing a welcome relief at the gas pump as the end-of-the-year holiday travel season approaches.

According to the latest report from AAA Northern California, which tracks gas prices as a service to consumers, every metro area in Northern California saw a decrease of at least nine cents over the past month.

California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.62, down 23 cents since last month’s AAA report on Nov. 13. For perspective, gas prices today are two cents more than California’s average price on this date last year. Among all 50 states, California has the fourth highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline. Hawaii is the highest at $4.

Northern California gas prices are now averaging $3.56, down 26 cents from last month, and are $3.44 in Sacramento, a drop of 42 cents. In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorists can expect to pay an average price of $3.71, which is a 27 cent decrease from last month. The California state average price of $3.62 is down 26 cents, which is 29 cents more than the national price of unleaded regular gasoline, $3.33.

“Prices at the pump have steadily declined across the country as demand continues to be low and supplies remain robust,” reports Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “The exception is the East Coast where supplies are increasing but remain somewhat tight following the disruption in distribution from Hurricane Sandy.”

While the demand will increase slightly for the holidays, overall demand is expected to remain low into 2013, which will keep downward pressure on gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices have also contributed to the cheaper gas prices paid by consumers.

The least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Modesto, where regular is $3.40 per gallon in that metro area. Of all the metro areas in Northern California where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka has the highest average price at $3.88. The least expensive gasoline in the country is found in Missouri, at $3.03 per gallon of unleaded regular. The highest price of gasoline in the nation’s metro areas is in Wailuku, Hawaii, at $4.06 per gallon.