Gasoline prices were up for the seventh consecutive week, increasing 1.8 cents to 257.7 cents per gallon as of March 19, 2007. Prices are now 7.3 cents per gallon higher than at this time last year. All regions reported price increases. East Coast prices were up 2.0 cents to 255.3 cents per gallon, while Midwest prices rose 0.3 cent to 249.0 cents per gallon. Prices for the Gulf Coast were up 1.6 cents to 241.8 cents per gallon. The largest regional increase was in the Rocky Mountains, where prices increased 9.0 cents to 250.2 cents per gallon. West Coast prices were up 2.6 cents to 294.6 cents per gallon, with the average price for regular grade in California up 1.0 cent to 307.8 cents per gallon, 44.3 cents per gallon above last year’s price.
Last year we had $3/gallon prices in some areas of the country. This price level caused a great deal of concern. While some people may be thinking the economy can withstand that level of a price shock now because we did last summer, there are some really important differences. The economy has continued at a slow pace of growth. Now consumers have seen the housing market flounder for the better part of the last year. In short, we have seen stagnant growth for a lot longer now. This might have a larger depressing effect on consumer sentiment.