Oil down slightly; gasoline highest since June 10

NEW YORK — Gasoline rose to the highest price in five weeks Tuesday as the recent spike in oil continues to filter down to the consumer level.

The average price for a gallon of gas rose 2 cents overnight to $3.635, the highest since June 10. That’s 15 cents more expensive than a week ago and 24 cents more than drivers were paying at this time last year.

Oil is up about 10 percent so far this month. It has been jolted higher by unexpectedly sharp drops in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories, which suggest stronger demand. The military ouster in early July of Egypt’s president has also added a premium to crude, reflecting the risk of supply disruptions from political instability in a country that controls the Suez Canal.

On Tuesday the price of oil moved lower along with U.S. stock markets. Benchmark crude for August delivery fell 32 cents to finish at $106 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The rise in gasoline futures has surpassed that of oil futures. As of Tuesday’s close, wholesale gasoline futures had gone up 38 cents this month, or 14 percent, to $3.13 a gallon. That gain is showing up at the nation’s gas stations. The price of gas has risen in July in all but three states — Colorado, Idaho and Utah. Drivers in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio have seen prices jump by 35 cents or more on average.

This week’s direction in oil and gasoline futures could be determined by fresh information on U.S. stockpiles.

Data for the week ending July 12 is expected to show a decline of 2.5 million barrels in crude oil stocks and no change in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

If the market forecast is confirmed, it could bolster the case of those traders and analysts who believe oil will rise further because U.S. energy demand is rising in step with faster hiring.

In London, Brent crude was down 6 cents to end at $108.02 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to finish at $3.13 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 2 cents to end at $3.05 a gallon.

— Natural gas was flat at $3.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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