Default jitters raise questions — for now, fill your tanks

Comment on the July 8 posting:  To predict that prices will fall over the weekend isn’t much of a prediction, so I won’t score it.

Monday, July 18, 2011, 12:15PM:  Retail prices have been falling nicely the past several days.  We see prices in the $3.60’s pretty much everywhere, and we are as low as $3.51 in Kentwood.  In terms of wholesale prices, I estimate the 0-cent margin price as I write this to be about $3.59, so we do have the ingredients for a price hike to $3.79.  What makes this less clear, though, are the turbulent markets in New York and elsewhere.  There are jitters about defaults in Madrid, Rome, and Washington which appear to be causing stock markets to drop, and that usually means lower gas prices.  At the same time, certain commodities like gold and silver and rising, and oil prices have been holding up.  So, I am going to predict a price re-set in the next two days to $3.79, with a bigger chance than usual of being wrong, since it is hard to predict what is going to happen next with these default situations. — Ed Aboufadel

Updated: July 18, 2011 — 11:19 am


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  1. Excellent prediction! You were correct both on the day (Tuesday) and price ($3.799) for west Michigan.

    The first Speedway station in Michigan reported at the new price was in Fruitport at 10:23 a.m. The second report was 10:30 a.m. in Charlotte. The third report was at 10:33 a.m. in Traverse City. Kalamazoo had the fourth report at 10:35 on Milham Ave. in Portage. Other lead cities:

    10:36 a.m. Fenton
    10:38 a.m. Comstock Township (Kalamazoo), Sprinkle at E. ML Ave.
    10:43 a.m. Livonia
    10:47 a.m. Port Huron
    10:49 a.m. Roosevelt Park

    The first station in Kalamazoo/Portage reported to match the new price was the Circle K/BP on Portage St. in Kalamazoo at 10:39 a.m. That particular station for years has been one of the low price leaders, so it’s a little surprising to see them being the first one to match Speedway.

    In the last 8 hours, these are the only Meijer stations in Michigan reported at $3.799 or above:

    $3.799 8:43 a.m. Ludington
    $3.799 7:43 a.m. Jackson
    $3.839 9:45 a.m. Gaylord
    $3.839 8:51 a.m. Petoskey

    In the last 8 hours, these are the only Meijer stations in Grand Rapids reported above $3.699:

    $3.749 10:13 a.m. Plainfield Ave., Grand Rapids – NE
    $3.779 7:15 a.m. 10 Mile Rd., Rockford

    In the last 12 hours, these are the only Grand Rapids stations of any brand reported at or above $3.799:

    $3.799 7:15 a.m. Mobil on Broadmoor & Patterson in Cascade
    $3.799 8:05 a.m. Mobil on Town Center Dr. in Cascade
    $3.819 7:20 a.m. Shell on S. Division at Wealthy St. in Grand Rapids

    So, like usual, as of 11:06 a.m., today’s Speedway increase has not yet reached Grand Rapids.

  2. Today’s Speedway increase began hitting Grand Rapids at 11:10 a.m., beginning with the following locations:

    11:10 a.m. at 1533 Leonard St. in Grand Rapids – NE
    11:14 a.m. at 3605 Burlingame Ave. in Wyoming

    No Meijer stations anywhere in Michigan are newly reported up at the new price.

    In the last 8 hours, only 1 Admiral in Michigan was reported at or above $3.799:

    $3.799 8:38 a.m. in Scottville

  3. The first Meijer in Michigan reported at Speedway’s new price was in Sterling Heights at 11:54 a.m. As of 12:46 p.m., that remains the only Meijer in Michigan reported at the new price. Meijer has not (yet) tweeted or posted to Facebook a gas price alert, nor have they sent one directly by text message. Meijer normally sends their alerts in the vicinity of 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    Here are the Meijer gas prices reported in Grand Rapids in the past 3 hours:

    12:14 p.m. $3.599 in Walker at 315 Wilson by TheViscoKid
    10:05 a.m. $3.599 in Wyoming on Clyde Park Ave.
    12:13 p.m. $3.669 in Cascade on 28th St. by KDUBBB
    12:13 p.m. $3.679 in Jenison on Baldwin St. by Rebus01
    12:13 p.m. $3.679 in Walker on Alpine by WestDriver
    10:01 a.m. $3.689 in Comstock Park on Alpine
    11:55 a.m. $3.749 in Grand Rapids – NE on Plainfield Ave.

    I don’t normally add the spotter’s username, but I found it curious that 4 allegedly different users posted at 12:13 to 12:14. WestDriver also reported for Comstock Park which is also on Alpine Ave.

    Even more curious is the Circle K/BP on Portage St. remains the only non-Speedway/Rich station in the Kalamazoo area reported at the new price, as of 12:46 p.m.

  4. It’s 3:49 p.m. and Meijer didn’t send a gas alert by tweet, Facebook update, or text message. This is in contrast to the past two weeks when a text alert was sent, but not Twitter or Facebook.

    Excepting Sterling Heights, Meijer started going up at their usual time of 1:30 today, as shown by all the $3.799 reports following Sterling Heights:

    1:49 p.m. Warren
    2:23 p.m. North Muskegon
    2:37 p.m. Canton
    3:01 p.m. Commerce Township
    3:09 p.m. Oxford
    3:10 p.m. Lansing – South
    3:13 p.m. Holland
    3:15 p.m. Waterford
    3:19 p.m. Portage (Kalamazoo)
    3:20 p.m. Belleville
    3:21 p.m. Grand Rapids, E. Beltline Ave.
    3:24 p.m. Rochester Hills
    3:34 p.m. Ypsilanti

    The reports make it look like most stations got the signal at 3:00.

  5. Unless there are big moves in the markets over the next week, we should just plan now on the next reset to occur on Tuesday, July 26. Speedway has raised prices on Tuesday for the past 4 weeks in a row, as you can see by the results below:

    * THU JUN 23 – failed increase to $3.699, following IEA oil release news (increase of as much as 31¢)

    * TUE JUN 28 – increase to $3.599 – 3 days before Independence holiday

    * THU JUN 30 – increase to $3.759 – 1 day before Independence holiday, second increase in the week, increase of as much as 52¢ at Admiral station in Portage that had been holding out at Michigan’s lowest $3.239 – boldly and accurately predicted

    * TUE JUL 5 – increase to $3.899, from as low as $3.599 (in Kalamazoo area) – un-predicted increase, except by the Spike Line

    * TUE JUL 12 – increase to $3.859, from as low as $3.679 (in Kalamazoo area) – totally unexpected, not even predicted by Spike Line

    * TUE JUL 19 – increase to $3.799, from as low as $3.609 (in Kalamazoo area) – perfectly predicted

  6. In Standale, the hike failed, and we are back to $3.59. (Good!) Seems like they re-set to just $3.65 along 28th street yesterday.

  7. It’s about 37 hours after the reset. The only Admiral in Kalamazoo County is sticking with the same pre-increase price of $3.609, as of 6:42 this evening. The nearby Meijer went up to the Speedway price yesterday, but has gone back down to Admiral’s price.

    Interestingly, both spotters and Speedway’s own website report the nearby 4 Speedway/Rich stations all remain currently at $3.799. So, there’s a 19¢ difference that should be making those Speedway/Rich stations pretty slow places. You can stand in the Meijer parking lot and simultaneously see the gas price signs at Admiral, Meijer, and the closest Speedway. I’ve never seen Speedway hold out this long on matching Admiral’s lower price. We’ll have to see if Speedway changes their mind tomorrow.

    Admiral is also double handedly (because they have two stations) keeping the prices in Sturgis 20¢ lower than anywhere else in the state. Prices in Sturgis are $3.249-$3.259. The next lowest price in Michigan is $3.449 at 44th St. and Eastern Ave. in Kentwood where Circle K tames the adjacent Speedway. The third lowest price in Michigan is $3.459. The original Meijer “Thrifty Acres” store is one of the locations where that price can be found.

  8. In Fort Wayne, State St and Sherman have quite a battle going on now for several weeks. There is a Circle K, Scotts/Kroger and a Speedway all within 2 blocks of one another. They are all of 12¢ below most stations this morning, being $3.67. Most stations in the city are at $3.77 to $3.79. There are pockets of $3.74, and even Sams is not leading the low price with its $3.68. In the many years of watching prices in Fort Wayne, I have never seen this much deviation between those at the top and bottom of the prices. Good time to fill up for the weekend. My advice, fill up again right away Monday morning, before 9:30 AM. I have seen a couple of small price resets on this intersection, so be careful.

  9. It’s over 3 days since the reset on Tuesday and the Admiral on Westnedge Ave. in Portage has stood firm at its pre-increase price of $3.609. Sometime since my last post, the nearby 4 Speedway/Rich stations finally lowered to match Admiral’s price. The second lowest Speedway price in the Kalamazoo area after that is $3.689 in Parchment.

    The Chicago spot market price remains right around $3, so we remain on course for a reset on Tuesday, July 26 in Michigan, because that’s the day Speedway has settled on lately.

  10. Do you think this is an accurate statement?:

    “The decline of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies accounted for 51% of the oil price increase from 2003 to 2008.”

    What do you think is the current statistic?

    The lowest price in Kalamazoo/Portage remains $3.609 on S. Westnedge Ave. near I-94 (the Admiral there has been steady at that price for a week now). Since my last post, the Admiral in Plainwell has fallen to $3.589. Most stations in this area are in an unusually small range of difference between $3.649 and $3.699.

    The prices in Grand Rapids are significantly lower, with $3.429 at 4 stations, $3.459 at 1, and $3.499 at a whole bunch.

    It looks like we remain on course to have Tuesday, July 26 be a repeat of last Tuesday’s reset to $3.799 or possibly $3.859.

  11. The Admiral in Portage finally moved from $3.609 by 12:01 p.m. today by dropping 3¢ to $3.579. Admiral had been at $3.609 for at least a week straight. I rarely see any gas station around here have the same price that long. Normally, it’s unusual to see any station have the same price for longer than 3 days.

    In Grand Rapids, prices continue to be significantly lower, with the lowest prices now $3.399 near the usual hot spot of 44th St. and Eastern Ave. in Kentwood. Those prices are just a penny out of being among the lowest 15 in the state.

    Current averages:

    $3.763 Detroit
    $3.763 Ann Arbor (lowest prices in Ypsilanti)
    $3.717 Michigan
    $3.696 Flint (average is shown as having risen 1.5¢ since yesterday)
    $3.691 USA
    $3.677 Fort Wayne, Indiana (lowest price $3.619 at 10 locations)
    $3.671 Kalamazoo
    $3.617 Grand Rapids
    $3.613 Cincinnati, Ohio (lowest prices in Oxford of $3.299-$3.339)
    $3.581 Lansing

  12. Sam’s Club here in Fort Wayne started out the day at $3.61 and is now $3.64. I have seen this happen before, where Sam’s will raise the price about 3¢ to 5¢ the day before a reset. I cannot say for sure, but I have observed this. Usually Sam’s will wait till late in the evening before raising prices that all other stations seem to do in the morning or early afternoon. Perhaps by putting an extra 3 or 4¢ on gasoline today, they can still look like heroes tomorrow, while holding the line on the price increase for 8 hours or so. Just an idea.

  13. Patrick reports yet another problem at the ExxonMobil refinery in Joliet, Illinois. However, it apparently isn’t a big deal, because the Chicago spot went up only 2.5¢.

    Today’s spike line suggests tomorrow’s reset in Michigan will be to $3.859.

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