Despite sell-off on Wall Street, gas prices aren’t moving much

Comment on the July 25 prediction:  Prices rose Tuesday, as predicted, but a little higher than expected ($3.85 in the Grand Rapids area).  The hike didn’t make it to Lake Michigan Drive until the next day.  CORRECT.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011, 7:40PM:  Despite a settlement in Washington, stocks had a big sell-off today.  Oil is down $5 a barrel in the past week.  Gas prices, as indicated by NYMEX and elsewhere.  Wholesale prices are stuck at $3 a gallon.  It’s August, which usually causes prices to rise, but with other markets falling, it seems like any pressure on gas prices are canceling out.  The result for retail prices?  The cheapest gas right now in the area is $3.53 in Sparta.  So, we could see a price re-set to about $3.79 (again) on Thursday, but my instincts are that we make it through the weekend without a hike.  Let’s call that a prediction. — Ed Aboufadel

Updated: August 2, 2011 — 6:39 pm

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  1. Continuing Speedway’s recent habit of raising gas prices every week, whether needed or not, Speedway stations began going up to $3.899 in Michigan at 10:24 a.m. today (Wednesday). While that is their normal time, the unusual part is the first report was from the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming (2360 28th St. & Byron Center Ave.). Normally, Grand Rapids area stations don’t start going up until about an hour after the rest of west Michigan (sometime after 11).

    Other first reports:

    10:28 a.m. Imlay City
    10:33 a.m. Allendale
    10:35 a.m. Flint – South
    10:35 a.m. Portage, W. Milham Ave.

    The Spike Line indicated a 10.04¢ margin on average Michigan prices and a 5.45¢ margin on average Speedway Michigan prices. The current Michigan spike line price does calculate to $3.899 for a full profit margin increase. So, while the timing is unexpected, the price is not.

    What makes this increase further interesting is New York gasoline futures are currently down 8.31¢ to $2.9542, a low level we haven’t seen in a while. So, we’ll have to see how much sticking power this increase has.

  2. spike in progress in Holland starting 1:30pm–go fill up quick

  3. Speedway in Fort Wayne, on Illinois Road is reported to be $3.85, and there are other stations around it that have gone up. Fill Up QUICK!

  4. JD,

    Prices in Holland were first reported up at 11:01 a.m. and probably began going up at 10:30 a.m. Not today, but I’ve seen Holland be among the first cities reported before. The only exception I’ve noticed is Grand Rapids and its suburbs, which normally start going up around 11 to 11:20 (today was a rare exception). So, whenever you see my post that prices are going up in Michigan, it very much applies to Holland.

    The first Speedway reported up in Fort Wayne, Indiana was at 11:03 a.m. ET. The first non-Speedway reported up in Fort Wayne was Shell on Illinois Rd. at 12:39 p.m. The first Meijer in Fort Wayne was reported at 2:47 p.m.

    So, once Speedway has raised their prices around 10:30 a.m. ET, drivers have until about 2 p.m. to get their gas somewhere else for less. Most stations are up by 4 p.m., with Admiral stations often being the last to increase. Some independent stations will immediately go up half the increase (e.g. 15¢ of a 30¢ increase), then the rest the following morning.

    Except for 2 locations, Meijer prices in Michigan were not reported up to $3.859 until after 2:15:

    12:05 Jackson, E. Michigan
    12:55 Comstock Township (Kalamazoo)
    2:24 Wyoming, Clyde Park Ave.
    2:33 Grand Rapids, Plainfield Ave.
    2:47 Sterling Heights
    2:50 Jackson, Airport Rd.
    2:50 Gaylord
    2:55 Portage, Shaver Rd.
    3:01 Three Rivers
    3:04 Comstock Park, Alpine Ave.
    3:07 Fort Gratiot

    Only 1 Admiral so far is reported up:

    1:16 Williamston

    Given how this increase was not totally necessary and how the market is down double digits, I would not be surprised if Admiral stations hold their ground at current prices. At 2:08, the Admiral in Portage was reported still at its pre-increase price of $3.679. At 12:15 p.m., the 2 Admirals in Plainwell were reported at $3.709. The 10:17 a.m. price for the Admiral in Holland was $3.659.

    Yet another week of no tweets or Facebook posts from Meijer about the day’s increase. However, they did send out the following SMS text message alert at or shortly before 12:18 p.m. ET:

    “Meijer Gas Alert! Mrkt cond. are rapidly changing fuel cost. Fill up @ Meijer as we expect gas prices to go up this afternoon. Info 800-313-2912. End: ENDGAS”

    New York gasoline futures are currently down 11.11¢ to $2.9262. The last time RBOB closed below that was on June 28.

    At 2:37 p.m. ET, the Chicago spot market price was down 12.56¢ (4.187%) to $2.8742. The last time Chicago closed below that was on June 28.

  5. The Admiral in Portage was reported up to $3.899 at 3:56 p.m.

    That was the first report after Williamston. Other Admirals that went up to $3.899:

    4:11 East Lansing E. Grand River Ave. & Woodmere Ave.
    4:19 Allendale
    4:25 Saginaw Gratiot Rd. near Miller Ct.
    4:28 Saginaw Bay Rd. near Christy Way
    4:39 Freeland
    4:44 Lansing N. Grand River Ave. & Hollywood St.
    4:59 Flint Davison Rd. & Virgina St.
    5:00 Saginaw Davenport Ave. & Bay St.
    5:00 Saginaw Dixie Hwy. near Kansas Ave.
    5:00 Burton
    5:04 Lowell W. Main St. & Ridgeview
    5:04 Lowell W. Main St. near Bowes
    5:26 Charlotte
    5:26 Holland
    5:26 Swartz Creek
    5:36 Lansing E. Kalamazoo St. & Clippert St.
    6:03 Bay City 212 S. Euclid Ave. & W. Jane St.
    6:06 Hastings
    6:15 Bay City 314 S. Euclid Ave. & W. Jenny St.
    6:23 Flint Richfield Rd. & Center Rd.
    6:26 East Lansing M-78 near Trout Lake Dr.
    6:30 Lansing S. Waverly Rd. & W. Holmes
    6:30 Lansing W. Jolly Rd. & S. Waverly Rd.
    6:38 Flint Richfield Rd. & N. Genesee Rd.
    6:45 Walker Alpine & Hillside

    These were reported at $3.889:

    4:01 Marshall
    5:44 Lincoln Township (Stevensville)
    6:47 Zeeland

    $3.879:

    3:57 Houghton Lake

    Allendale, Walker, and 2 locations in Lowell were the Grand Rapids area Admiral stations that went up. The remaining Grand Rapids area Admirals reported in the last 4 hours are much lower at $3.589 to $3.659. Those 5 locations are in Grand Rapids, Cedar Springs, Sparta ($3.649 up from $3.539), and Wyoming. The Admirals in Grand Rapids and Cedar Springs are the lowest recently reported Admirals in the state.

    New York gasoline futures finished the day down 10.6¢ to $2.9313. Chicago gasoline finished the day down 12.35¢ (4.117%) to $2.8763.

  6. Oil down to $86 a barrel, gas prices in Cedar at $3.58 yet this afternoon.

  7. New York gasoline futures are currently down 18.33¢ to $2.748. The last time we saw a closing price below this was sometime before May 2. The closest we’ve come since then was $2.7679 on June 27. New York gasoline futures are down 28.93¢ since yesterday morning. Since Friday morning, futures are down $31.46.

    Crude oil is down today $5.11 to $86.82. We haven’t seen any closing prices below $90 since before May 2. WTI oil futures are down $10.62 since Friday morning.

    Chicago gasoline is down 18.75¢ (6.519%) to $2.6888 today. The last time we saw it that low was June 27 at $2.6807. Chicago gasoline is down 31.1¢ since Speedway went up to $3.899 yesterday morning.

    In Kalamazoo, prices have fallen 14¢ on Portage St./Rd. to $3.759, the lowest price currently reported in the Kalamazoo/Plainwell/Paw Paw area. Interestingly, the former low price leader, Admiral on Westnedge, was reported still at $3.899 as of 3:39 p.m. today. The Kalamazoo average is $3.883.

    The Grand Rapids average is $3.845. The lowest reported price is $3.589 at 7 locations in Cedar Springs.

    GasBuddy spotters report all the prices in Holland still at $3.899, except for $3.699 at a Marathon on James St. and U.S. 31. That must be stale data, because Speedway’s website reports 2 stations on Butternut Dr. at $3.889, 120th Ave. at $3.869, and S. Washington at $3.849.

    The Michigan average is $3.835. The lowest reported price in the state is $3.549 at a BP in Sheridan, which is straight up M-66 from Ionia. All 15 of the lowest reported prices in the state are in Sheridan, Stanton, and Lansing.

    The U.S. average is $3.702.

  8. Diether, do you check the Speedway website for price increases, too? I’m curious about when they go up. They used to uniformly go up around 9am. This going up at 10-11am and not all at once strikes me odd.

    Also, we used to have a Speedway spike price (say $3.859), and the next day the state average would be within 3-5¢ of that. But lately we are lucky to get within 10¢. If Speedway really is the one making the move, I’m surprised at the new tactics. Move before it is needed, move later in the day, and don’t move everywhere.

  9. Yes, I check Speedway’s website for price increases. Their site is not real time. The new price is always reflected in the update they do around 10:45 to 10:50. By that time, GasBuddy spotters have already made several reports of the new price from locations across Michigan. I always see the first spotter reports around 9:45 to 10:25.

    Grand Rapids area Speedways (except for this past Tuesday), have (in the time I’ve been observing remotely) always gone up later than the rest of west Michigan, based both on Speedway’s website and GasBuddy spotters. While the rest of west Michigan, like Holland and Kalamazoo/Portage, is going up around 10:00, Grand Rapids stations aren’t going up until sometime after 11. I used to think Speedway’s website wasn’t updating the Grand Rapids area in a timely manner (Schoolcraft is slow updating), but then I saw the same thing happening with GasBuddy spotter reports.

    One of these days, when we’re super confident prices are going up, I’m going to sit outside a Speedway with an electronic sign and see exactly what time the price goes up. Based on observing gas prices in the Kalamazoo area since 2000, Speedway stations here have always gone up around 10-10:30 a.m.

    I also check Twitter for gas price reports. I found a very interesting tweet time stamped 8:33 a.m. yesterday from a user in Lansing that said “my insider” had informed him that prices were going up to $3.899. One would assume this insider is connected to Speedway. Whatever the case, that tweet was clearly before any Speedway stations started going up Wednesday. I went back through that user’s time line and found only 1 other reference to this “insider” since August 1, 2010:

    “My gas insider said he’s “certain” gas is jumping up a lot today or tomorrow. Fill up. #fb” – 7:22 a.m. March 2

    That sounds more like the predictions we make. In fact, this site did make a very confident prediction on March 1 that prices were going up the following day: http://www.thegasgame.com/2011/03/01/nymex-takes-the-plunge-over-3-rbob-and-100-oil/

    So, while this earlier information could have been gleaned from this site or somewhere else, the one yesterday wasn’t. The one yesterday was also specific on the day and the price. I’ve added that Twitter user to the sites I monitor for gas price information.

    Some time ago, I found a retailer in Flint that tweets gas price increases. Most of the tweets are in response to an observed Speedway increase, but a few predictions/advanced warnings have been made:

    * 9:13 a.m. March 2 – “FYI. Gas prices are jumping to $3.55 in the next hour. We will give everyone 2 hours to fill up before we go up.”

    * 9:57 a.m. March 7 – “Oil futures are on the rise again in overnight trading, following continued unrest throughout the Middle East. Fill upbefore we go up!”

    * 9:02 a.m. March 10 – “Watch out! Gas prices could be jumping in Flint! Warn your friends. Forward this on so everyone can fill up! Projected Price $3.55-$3.65” — THIS READS LIKE A GAS BUDDY ALERT FROM PATRICK

    * 9:22 P.M. March 17 – “Watch out! Gas prices could be jumping in Flint! Warn your friends. Forward this email. Projected Price $3.59-3.69” — THIS READS LIKE A GAS BUDDY ALERT FROM PATRICK

    * 8:57 a.m. March 23 – “Watch out! Gas prices could be jumping in Flint! Warn your friends. Forward this email. Projected Price $3.65-$3.75” — THIS READS LIKE A GAS BUDDY ALERT FROM PATRICK

    * 9:38 a.m. April 11 – “WATCH OUT! Gas prices are jumping to $3.99 this morning. We will hang low as long as possible for you all to fill-up.”

    * 8:06 P.M. May 1 – “The odds of this prediction being correct is 85%. We will stay low as long as possible when this move happens.”

    * 8:07 P.M. May 1 – “A refinery in Joliet, IL had a problem late Friday, boosting worries about supply. A hike to $4.29-$4.39 is very likely in the next 48 hours”

    * 8:07 P.M. May 1 – “As a result of a huge increase in wholesale prices Friday, expecting gasoline prices to rise to new record highs in our area.”

    * 11:38 a.m. May 24 – “Gas price hike. Warn your friends. Odds of the increase are 80%. We have stations as low as $3.58 right now. Projected Price $3.95-$4.15” — SPEEDWAY WENT UP THE FOLLOWING DAY TO $3.999

    * 7:44 a.m. June 1 – “Watch out! Forward this post. Wholesale gasoline prices rose sharply yesterday in Flint. Source: OPIS Projected Price $3.99-$4.15” — THIS READS LIKE A GAS BUDDY ALERT FROM PATRICK

    * 10:54 P.M. June 29 – “GAS PRICE ALERT! Projected Price $3.65-$3.75 by Friday! So fill up before the streets go up. We have stores in the $3.30’s at this time”

    I believe in every single one of these cases, this site predicted the increases, so none of this was any kind of insider information. Further, several of those tweets read like unattributed GasBuddy alerts sent by Patrick.

    As far as the time of the first reported Speedway increase in Michigan by GasBuddies, here are all the times I’ve posted to this site:

    10:24 WED AUG 3
    9:47 TUE JUL 26
    10:23 TUE JUL 19
    9:49 TUE JUL 12 (unexpected increase, first report could have been earlier)
    10:25 TUE JUL 5
    10:18 THU JUN 30 (9:52 first report in Ohio)
    10:12 TUE JUN 28
    9:48 THU JUN 23 (statewide failed increase)
    10:07 WED MAY 25

    I hadn’t figured out how to determine the first report in the state before May 25.

    As far as uniformity, all of the Speedways in southwest Michigan (zip codes 490** and 491**) are reported at a new price on Speedway’s website, except for Sturgis the past few times when Admiral had been loss leading the state there. It is common for there to be one price for most of southwest Michigan, and a price 5-10¢ higher or lower for the stations on the Indiana border, like Sturgis, Coldwater, and Niles.

  10. It’s been a long time since I have posted, but considering the current gas economy, I feel I need to throw in my 2 cents.

    First off, kudos to Speedway on the timing of your price hike. The company heads must have felt like they won the lottery as they have watched oil and gas prices fall off a cliff.

    I have been involved in watching local gas prices for a number of years now since I do the Hastings to Downtown Grand Rapids grind every day. I continue to be intrigued by the price bubble that we have had in the Kentwood area for most of the summer. Rarely do you see the price stay low in one area for such a long period of time. Normally, you see that bubble bounce to different areas in the community.

    Thankfully, Costco usually bails me out when I don’t have a chance to fill up before a Speedway rocket. I travel to my parents house in Ohio a number of times each year. The next trip soon. What is grinding me right now, is that the price in the GR area vs. the price at the Costco in Toledo right now – $3.47 a gallon. Sigh!!!

  11. As one would expect the day after a big crash, gasoline futures are currently up 5.88¢ to $2.796. Chicago gasoline is up 3.46¢ to $2.7168. However, oil is down another 94¢ to $85.69.

    In Kalamazoo/Plainwell/Paw Paw, the Circle K/BP on Portage St. in Kalamazoo is again the low price leader, down to $3.719 as of 6:32 a.m. The previous low price leader, Admiral on Westnedge in Portage, remains at $3.899 as of 8:37 a.m.

    Cedar Springs ($3.579-$3.589), Sparta ($3.639), Hudsonville ($3.649-$3.659), and Wyoming ($3.659) are where the low prices can be found in the greater Grand Rapids area.

    Averages:

    $4.080 Bridgeport, Connecticut (highest in nation)
    $3.854 Kalamazoo (14th highest in the nation, right behind Anchorage)
    $3.839 Flint
    $3.835 Grand Rapids
    $3.811 Fort Wayne, Indiana
    $3.799 Michigan
    $3.781 Ann Arbor
    $3.767 Detroit
    $3.725 Lansing
    $3.687 USA (down 1.2¢ since yesterday, a big move for the national average)
    $3.654 Cincinnati, Ohio
    $3.653 Evansville, Indiana (lowest in Great Lakes states)
    $3.303 Tucson, Arizona (lowest metro in nation)

    Toledo currently has the highest metro average in Ohio, $3.695. The lowest actual price reported in Toledo is $3.399 at a Sunoco, but that price might not be trustworthy, because the user has a low rating (2,350 points, 2 Days) and that price is 8¢ below the second lowest price, $3.479 at Kroger, Costco, and One Stop. The Toledo area should always have a price advantage not only because of Ohio’s lower state taxes, but also because there are 2 refinerys in town: BP/Husky and Sunoco.

    As far as Kentwood, it’s the Circle K at 44th and Eastern that is keeping the prices down. Circle K’s and Admirals are the low price leaders in many areas. In Kalamazoo/Portage, there are 4 Circle K’s (only 1 of which still sells gas), all of which used to be Dairy Marts. There used to be at least 4 Dairy Marts that sold gas, but the one at Lovell St. took out its pumps and the other two (W. Michigan and W. Main) have closed and been demolished. The other chain to mostly go away in Kalamazoo/Portage were the Clark/Super Duper stations. Many of the independent stations in Kalamazoo have recently re-branded as Marathon. They probably always sold Marathon gas and remain independent stations, but I imagine Marathon encouraged them to become branded.

    Why would the Circle K in Kentwood sell gas at a loss for an extended period of time? It drives traffic to their convenience store. If you do it long enough, you get a reputation for having the lowest gas prices in the area and everyone starts buying gas there. That increases traffic to the convenience store where you make your money. You’ll note Speedway TV commercials never say anything about their gasoline. The commercials 100% promote their convenience stores. The profit margin on fountain soda pop is massive. They probably also make a good profit on coffee.

  12. Check out Napoleon, Ohio. I am going there tomorrow, and I have been watching on Gas Buddy. The whole Scott street parade of stations, including the Speedway are all $3.75, while Pilot, 2 miles away sets there at $3.45, 30¢ cheaper. The other two truck stops are hanging with Pilot. Thankfully the three truck stops all carry gasoline for the automobile traffic also.

  13. New York gasoline futures settled down 11.36¢ today to $2.6916.

    WTI crude oil settled down $5.57 to $81.31.

    Chicago gasoline close down 9.735¢ (3.549%) to $2.64535.

    In Paw Paw, Mattawan, and Lawton, retail prices are down 30¢ since Wednesday to $3.599. In Kalamazoo/Portage, the lowest Speedway prices are $3.649 on Portage and Gull Roads, a 25¢ drop since Wednesday. Independent stations on Gull Road are reported as low as $3.609. The Admiral in Portage is $3.679 while the two locations in Plainwell are $3.819. The Speedway and Citgo in Schoolcraft are the only places reported still at $3.899. The Kalamazoo average is $3.705.

    In Grand Rapids, and Admiral in Wyoming on 28th St. and Division Ave. is leading the way with $3.529. Seven stations in Cedar Springs are right behind with $3.559. At 11:12 this morning, the BP on Leonard at Fremont was the only one in the Grand Rapids area still reported at $3.899. The Grand Rapids average is $3.743.

    The Michigan average is $3.715. The U.S. average is down 5.1¢ since a week ago to $3.654, but still 3.2¢ above where it was a month ago.

    I wrote before about how I’m annoyed by the Kalamazoo Gazette articles about gas prices, that are all by the same writer. Here is one from Friday, that makes absolutely no mention of what happened to the wholesale price of gasoline:

    http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/08/one_day_after_big_rise_southwe.html

  14. Prices on the far southwest side of Kalamazoo uniformly went from $3.799 yesterday morning to $3.699 by the evening. Still on the west side, but closer to downtown, prices were $3.729 by the evening. $3.599 remains the lowest price in the Paw Paw/Lawton/Mattawan area at 12 locations. $3.609 remains the lowest price in Kalamazoo/Portage at 1 location. The Kalamazoo metro average is $3.686.

    The $3.529 reported in Grand Rapids yesterday at Admiral in Wyoming at 28th St. and Division Ave. may have been in error. That station is now reported at $3.629. That leaves Cedar Springs and Sparta with the lowest price of $3.559. The Grand Rapids metro average is $3.710.

    The Michigan spike line was $3.3111 yesterday with a 39.89¢ margin, so unless the market takes a significant upward swing, prices will continue falling into next week.

    The Michigan average fell a whopping 6.7¢ yesterday to $3.646, and has fallen below the national average ($3.648). The lowest price currently reported in Michigan is $3.409 in Baraga (upper peninsula by the pinky finger). The second lowest price is $3.419 at the Kroger in Lambertville near Toledo, Ohio. The lowest Speedway in the state is $3.449 in Three Oaks, on U.S. 12 at the Indiana border. Of the lowest 15 prices reported in the state, 8 of them are $3.459 in Greenville, which has 2 Admirals and 3 Meijer stores. The BP in Romulus near Detroit Metro Airport at $4.199 is the only station in the state reported above $3.999.

  15. Both New York gasoline (2.4¢) and oil ($2.01) futures settled lower yesterday, but both are up significantly in after hours trading (8.98¢ and $3.24).

    Retail prices on the far southwest side of Kalamazoo uniformly went from $3.699 in the morning to $3.639 in the evening, a two day decrease of 16¢.

  16. The spike line was not updated yesterday. Chicago spot gasoline closed at $2.81875 yesterday, an increase of 17.365¢ from the spike line basis. That puts the current Michigan spike line about $3.48315. In addition, Chicago gasoline is up another 1.3¢ today to $2.83175.

    Prices in Kalamazoo/Portage are reported down to $3.499 at 2 locations near the airport, with Speedway reporting none of its Kalamazoo/Portage stations that low. In Paw Paw/Lawton/Mattawan, 12 stations are reported at $3.499. Only 8 stations in the greater Kalamazoo area are reported above $3.659, including Schoolcraft and Shaver Rd. in Portage, which leads directly to Schoolcraft. The Kalamazoo average is $3.582.

    $3.66 is the Grand Rapids average. While Cedar Springs, Sparta, and Kentwood have the lowest reported prices, the lowest not at a membership club is $3.529. If you want to beat Kalamazoo/Paw Paw prices in northern west Michigan, head to Greenville, which has 7 stations at $3.379 and 1 at $3.389, among the lowest prices in the state.

    Prices in Holland are pretty compact, ranging from $3.589 at Admiral to $3.659 at a Mobil.

    Prices in Muskegon are indeed higher, ranging from $3.579 at 2 Admirals to most stations in the $3.659 to $3.719 range.

    Grand Haven: $3.579 to $3.609

    South Haven: $3.739 to $3.769

    Benton Harbor: $3.549 to $3.599, plus 2 outlying Marathons reported today at $3.679

    St. Joe: $3.579 to $3.589

    Niles: $3.529 to $3.599

    New Buffalo: $3.499 and $3.599 downtown, $3.599 and $3.729 near Four Winds casino.

    Battle Creek: $3.589 to $3.669, plus $3.729 (24 hours ago)

    Michigan average: $3.624

    USA average: $3.614

    The BP in Romulus near Detroit Metro Airport is down to $3.999, leaving Drummond Island ($4.199) as the only reported place in the state to get $4 gas, though I imagine that might be a boat dock. Does gasoline sold at boat docks contain all the same road fuel taxes?

  17. Is this why gas prices jumped 10% from $3.41 to $3.75 overnight?

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