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Gas prices rise slightly after months of declines

The national average price of gasoline rose slightly Wednesday, ending a streak of months of decline after soaring to its highest levels ever over the summer.

AAA reported the average gas price on Wednesday is $3.681 per gallon, up from Tuesday’s average of $3.674. Gas prices have consistently dropped since the average peaked above $5 per gallon in June.

Consumer prices continued to rise over the past few months despite decreasing fuel costs. The consumer price index, a measure of inflation, rose 0.1 percent in August after stagnating in July.

Food prices overall rose 0.8 percent, while prices for goods other than food and energy, known as core inflation, rose 0.6 percent last month. The Federal Reserve views core inflation as a better indicator of price increases in the country because it does not include volatile prices swings that occur with food and energy.

The average national gas price is down from $3.904 a month ago but still higher than the $3.192 per gallon a year ago. Prices remain the highest on the West Coast and most affordable in the South.

The falling gas prices have given Democrats increased optimism as the November midterm elections approach. Democratic strategists said the lower prices mean people are not seeing and feeling the effects of inflation as much as they would if the prices were higher.

Republicans have sought to make the economy and inflation the top issue heading into the midterms, but some opinion polling has shown voters shifting somewhat toward other issues like abortion.

The global cost of oil is the most significant indicator of gas prices, and the federal government has limited ability to control gas prices. But their increase or decrease is considered a key factor in the government’s ability to lower the costs of living.

The Biden administration announced in March that it would release an average of 1 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves per day over six months to alleviate the rising prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February caused oil and gas prices to soar as many countries that usually purchase Russian oil are turning to other sources, causing increased demand.

White House assistant press secretary Abdullah Hasan said in a statement on Wednesday that the administration has made “historic progress,” noting that gas prices are down more than $1.30 per gallon from the June peak.

But he said that families should be seeing greater relief as wholesale gas prices have declined by 18 percent while gas station prices have dropped by 6 percent in the past month.

“Oil and gas companies are making record profits and need to pass these savings on to consumers at the gas pump now,” Hasan said. “President Biden will use every tool he has to get gas prices lower, and to hold oil and gas companies accountable.”

–Updated at 11:28 a.m.

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