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CSP, April 25, 2016:
Recent Margin Gain Snatched Away
Pump prices still edging up

CSP, April 11, 2016:
Retailers Regain Margin
Gasoline market outjumps crude

CSP, March 21, 2016:
When Crude Oil Cracks the Whip,
Gasoline Prices Fall in Line
Pump prices up 25 cents in a month

CSP, March 7, 2016:
Jump at the Pump
Retail price finally rises on oil price hike

CSP, February 22, 2016:
Uncle to Refiners: 'I Didn't Hear You!'
Upward pressure on pump price is building

CSP, February 8, 2016:
Are Refiners Ready to Cry ‘Uncle’?
Pump price slide continues, oil prices shuffling

CSP, April 25, 2016:
Recent Margin Gain Snatched Away
Pump prices still edging up

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- The average pump price for regular grade is $2.1790, up 7.87 cents from two weeks ago. It has climbed about 41 cents over nine weeks, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.

There may be a few more pennies to come. There are two clear causes of the rise since winter ended: Crude oil prices have been edging up, and so have U.S. refiners' costs of making and distributing spring-summer blends. If crude oil prices do not beat a retreat quickly, gasoline prices may still inch up.

In much of the country, refiners are still racing the calendar to comply with regulations requiring lower-vapor-pressure product May 1 at the wholesale level in advance of the June 1 deadline at the consumer level.

The rack price roller-coaster ride means a similar choppy ride for retail margin. Most recently, increases at the racks have hit in most locales, and some retailers have yet to pass them through. The result: Since April 8, the U.S. average retail margin on regular-grade gasoline lost close to 7 cents. Margin on April 22 is just 11.26 cents, the skinniest since July 10 of last year.

The pain of skimpy margins is made more acute by various retail business costs, to be paid out of margin, which are rising in many markets. Retail margin recovery will likely occur sometime soon.

Refiner margin, meanwhile, has been improving after a long stretch of paucity, as gasoline's seasonally changing specs take a bigger chunk.

Industry critics and regulators are often unaware of the consumer price consequences of mandating gasoline formula changes, even the spring-summer ones that have hit the market ever since March 1989.

Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries.

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