Diesel prices up as oil dips

| Monday, January 31, 2005

The national average price-per-gallon for diesel fuel jumped nearly 4 cents Monday, Jan. 31, to $1.992 compared with last week’s average of $1.959, the Energy Department reported.

The price boost marks the highest diesel has been since mid-December.

The highest average prices in the nation continue to be found in the New England region, where the average cost is $2.225.

Among the higher average prices were in the Central Atlantic region, at $2.172; California, at $2.126; the West Coast region, at $2.085; and the East Coast region, at $2.048.

Other prices included the Lower Atlantic region, at $1.979; the Midwest region, at $1.954; the Rocky Mountain region, at $1.946; and the Gulf Coast region, at $1.94.

Meanwhile,crude oil prices fell to the lowest in almost three weeks after OPEC agreed to leave production targets unchanged and Iraq’s elections passed without attacks on pipelines and other infrastructure.

Analysts said forecasts of more mild weather in the United States was adding to the downward pressure on prices.

Light, sweet crude for delivery in March fell 48 cents to $46.70 a barrel in afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day, prices touched $46.01, the lowest since Jan. 12.

February heating oil was down 3.6 cents at $1.3020 per gallon.

OPEC ministers, who met Sunday in Vienna, Austria, left their daily output quota unchanged at 27 million barrels, citing anticipated strong demand and volatile markets for maintaining production.

The cartel added that oil prices near $50 per barrel would remain high through the spring.

OPEC agreed in December to cut output by 1 million barrels a day starting Jan. 1 to bring output closer to its self-imposed output ceiling of 27 million barrels.

Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh also said members will study a new price target because the current $22 to $28 a barrel goal is unrealistic.

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