Category: Predictions

Surprising Stability This Month

Comment on the April 7 prediction: The hike to $3.79 came on Thursday the 10th, which took longer than I expected, so almost CORRECT.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 12 PM: I hesitated to write a post this past Sunday, given what was happening in the Middle East then and the unpredictable effect on oil and gas prices. But, it appears that the latest between Iran and Israel has settled down for now, so let’s see where we are at.

Oil prices have been holding constant at about $85 a barrel so far this month, and consequently, wholesale gas prices have also been holding steady near $2.80 a gallon. That price corresponds to a 0-cent margin price of around $3.30, and we have some stations in west Michigan near that price, particularly on Alpine Ave. Elsewhere, you can still find prices in the $3.70’s from the April 7 hike. As we have noted several times, it depends on how active the competition is in a neighborhood.

So, given the lack of volatility recently, any hike for the remainder of this week would go back to $3.79. I am doubtful that will happen unless Big M and Big Red get bored. -EA

Doesn’t Look Any Better Than Last Week

Comment on the April 2 prediction: So far, Michigan has been spared the recent hikes that have affected other Great Lakes states. So, the prediction was WRONG.

Sunday, April 7, 2024, 11 AM: Really, nothing has changed in wholesale-land for gas prices since my last posting. I was glad to be able to buy gas for $3.35 a gallon in Portland, west of Lansing, on Saturday evening. But still many $3.69’s in Kent and Ottawa counties. And the media has started noticing that oil has been ticking up towards $90 a barrel. So, I’m doubling down on my prediction for a hike in the next few days, in the neighborhood of $3.79. -EA

Big M Reaching For the Price Reset Button

Comment on the March 24 prediction: They did reset last week, but only to $3.69 again. Almost CORRECT.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 5 PM: I received GasBuddy alert today for hikes in Ohio, NW Indiana, and the rest of Indiana, all pushing up to new highs for the year. Is Michigan next? Probably, as oil continues to rally, now to over $85 a barrel. OK, Marathon, stick it to us with $3.79. I’m watching you. -EA

That’s Good! That’s Bad!

Sunday, March 24, 2024, 2 PM: When I was a kid, I had a book called That’s Good, That’s Bad. Let’s do that with gas prices here in the Midwest.

No price resets last week was good. Seeing prices notably higher in Michigan and Illinois versus the rest of the old school Big Ten states is bad.

 

Source:  GasBuddy

That the Whiting refinery in Indiana is back to normal operations is good. That attacks on refineries are occurring in the Ukraine war is bad, even though Ukraine is half a world away, as this article explains.

It is good that you can get gas in west Michigan for $3.29 in Kentwood. It is bad that prices are as high as $3.73 this afternoon in Allendale. (Remember when Allendale had price competition?)

The 0-cent margin price is somewhere between $3.29 and $3.39, and that is good. But oil has ticked up to $80 a barrel, which will keep gas prices above $3 a gallon. Bad.

So, the plan for the week? Keep looking for prices below $3.59. (Good.) There is a decent chance they’ll try to take it back to $3.75 – $3.79 later in the week. (Bad.) -EA

Giving M & A the Stink Eye

Comment on the March 10 prediction: “No further hike is on the horizon this week”. Well, that was WRONG!

Sunday, March 17, 2024, 5PM: Despite most stations being close to the $3.69 hike we discussed a week ago, our Marathon/Admiral friends decided to push it up again to $3.75 on Thursday. Slowly, other stations followed suit, but on Friday afternoon, you could still buy gas for $3.31 a gallon on Alpine Avenue in GR. (In fact, the Marathon there was at $3.39, begging the competition to push it up, but then down the street, Speedway had capitulated and gone to $3.75.) As reported by our GasBuddy, that $3.31 was pretty much the 0-cent margin price.

Meanwhile, I drove from west Michigan to Lansing yesterday, and $3.39’s along I-96.

Meanwhile, when gas pricing is favorable to the stations, the stock price in Valero rallies, and it has been on a tear: up more than 15% this month.

What’s going on? Oil has ticked up over $80 a barrel. We are starting to move towards the summer gas blends, which always pushes prices up. Big M is getting more aggressive with their price at the pump, at least in west Michigan. But, I see we still have a bunch of $3.39’s around the area.

So, no prediction today. And thank you K&G for keeping your prices lower. -EA

This is How Inflation Happens

Comment on the February 28 prediction: That prediction was perfectly CORRECT, both in time and price. But, this slow-motion hike last week? Well, let’s discuss …

Sunday, March 10, 2024, 11 AM: Back in January, we noted that “looking back over my 2023 data, it seems that the retailers were somewhat successful sneaking in a margin boost when we were enjoying that significant drop in prices in August-September.” What that meant was that it appears that since last fall, retailers have been trying to squeeze out more revenue per gallon than in the past. Last month, it seems they backed off here in Michigan, and it would be nice to believe that our January posting contributed to that, but most likely not. But with last week’s hike, they were back to their new tricks. You could tell that something was problematic about the hike to $3.69 in Michigan, because it started at selected stations on Tuesday (thanks, Marathon) but didn’t kick in broadly until Thursday. I’m sure some of the station owners on Wednesday were looking at the landscape and thinking, “Do I hike to $3.69, or not bother?”

Meanwhile, oil prices have been vibrating around $77 a barrel since late January, so that isn’t putting pressure on gas prices, and the Whiting refinery in Indiana is opening back up soon. No, I think what is happening this time is our capitalistic grab for profits, and that’s often how we get inflation.  But, no further hike is on the horizon this week.

The antidote is competition, like what is happening at 44th and Kenowa in Grandville. -EA

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