April 20 (UPI) — The surge in gas prices coming from higher crude oil prices means OPEC is cancelling out the gains of U.S. consumers from a tax break, GasBuddy said Friday.
U.S. retail gasoline prices are the highest they’ve been in more than three years. Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price of $2.75 for a gallon of regular unleaded, up 2 cents from Thursday, 20 cents higher than one month ago and more than 30 cents higher than this time last year.
Patrick DeHaan, the senior analyst at GasBuddy, told UPI that the spike in gas prices means Americans are paying about $86 million per day more to fill up their tanks than they were a month ago. The economy, with discretionary spending under threat, may be facing some headwinds as a result.
Already this week, AAA said U.S. motorists might have to start putting more money aside for summer holidays given the surge in gasoline prices.
Gas prices tend to follow the price for crude oil, which is up almost 11 percent from its low point in April. Crude oil prices have been supported by geopolitical tensions over Syria and by a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut back on crude oil production.
The steady surge in crude oil prices caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump, who used Twitter to complain the market was overheated.
“With record amounts of oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, oil prices are artificially very high!” he said Friday. “No good and will not be accepted!”
Oil prices shot up this week when some OPEC members lobbied for even higher prices. DeHaan said that’s making a mockery out of the consumer tax breaks enacted by the Trump administration when what they’d see in bigger paychecks goes into the gas tank.
“It’s no surprise Trump has gotten involved finally,” he said. “For every penny more that motorists flush down the pump, it’s a billion dollars out of his economy.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported that prices for consumer goods increased 2.4 percent in the 12-month period ending in March. The index for gasoline, however, was 11.1 percent higher over the same period.
The International Monetary Fund this week said the global economy is growing, but could be under threat from protectionist trade policies like some of those Trump has endorsed. Wage increases, meanwhile, have been sub-par and “many households have seen little or no benefit from growth.”