How worried are U.S. consumers about higher gasoline prices? To get a feel for that sentiment, Yahoo! Finance looked at trends in online search terms and found that searches for “gas prices by zip code” were up 182 percent in the 30 days ending March 24, compared with the same period last year.
Drivers also increasingly seem to be looking for fuel-efficient alternatives to gas-powered vehicles. Searches for “hybrid cars” skyrocketed 2,448 percent, according to Yahoo! search trends.
Equity investors are trading on gas prices as well. Searches for “natural gas stocks” rose 764 percent, according to Yahoo! data.
Some individual stocks tend to rise along with gas prices, according to analyst Paul Hickey at Bespoke Investment Group. He cited Flower Foods (FLO), Allegiant Travel (ALGT), AZZ (AZZ) and True Religion (TRLG) has shares that have historically performed well when gas rose to $3.75 a gallon.
Regardless of how consumers may feel, however, the latest oil and gas inventory data suggest prices at the pump could dip further in the coming months.
While gasoline supplies fell, crude supplies and refinery capacity rose. Together, those increases eventually mean more gasoline.
A gallon of gas is currently $3.65, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. And seasonal price increases aren’t expected to be as dramatic as last year, said oil and gas analyst Tom Kloza at the Oil Price Information Service in a note covering his forecasts for the year.
But consumers are still looking for ways reduce the impact of high gas prices on their wallets.