NEW YORK — Gasoline prices likely won't set any records this summer, thanks to a recent drop in the price of oil.
The government Tuesday slashed its forecast for average gas prices to $3.79 per gallon for the summer driving season. That's down from an initial estimate of $3.95 and below 2008's record average of $3.80.
The Energy Information Administration's revised forecast is encouraging for the economy. Some economists blame high pump prices for so-so consumer spending. The prices also were seen as a factor in the loss of 35,000 retail jobs in February and March.
Gasoline prices soared 20 percent from January to early April. A few analysts warned drivers they could pay $5 this summer.
But the price of benchmark crude has dropped about $8 per barrel since early April. Retail gas prices have followed, falling 17 cents since reaching $3.936 on April 5.
Oklahoma drivers paid an average of $3.498 a gallon Tuesday, down nearly a quarter from a month ago, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. The price in Oklahoma City was $3.466 a gallon on average.
“It's almost like a tax cut,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The Energy Information Administration's prediction means motorists will spend about $10.7 billion less on gasoline than previously anticipated.
Last year, drivers paid an average of $3.71 per gallon from April to September, considered the peak driving season.
“Looks like we have weathered the worst of this spring's gasoline price spikes,” AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said. “It appears more and more certain now that prices will continue to trend downward for the rest of May into June.”
Oil is down nearly 12 percent since peaking near $110 per barrel in February. As oil prices fall, it becomes cheaper for refineries to make gasoline. Some of that savings eventually shows up at the pump.