Never mind the recent spike in gasoline pump prices. The Energy Information Administration's closely watched forecast is predicting that the national per-gallon price may fall again, to $1.94, for this year's summer driving season.
That would mark the lowest price in 12 years, helped by high inventories.
Wall Street keeps a close eye on gasoline prices because they offer clues about consumer confidence, which is a key factor in economic growth. According to the EIA's calculations, people will pocket average savings of $350 on gasoline compared with last year.
That news may come as a surprise to many.
A survey released Tuesday by the National Association of Convenience Stores found that two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents expect gasoline prices to rise within the next 30 days, an 11-point gain from the percent who said that a month ago and the highest number since 2015.
Their misgivings are understandable. According to GasBuddy, at $2.08 currently, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is already up 16 cents over the past month, although that's 31 cents less than this time last year.
"While prices are relatively low compared to previous Aprils, there is still considerable angst across the country related to further price increases," said Jeff Lenard, an NACS spokesman, in a press release.
Concern about the consumer's mindset is likely to weigh on corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks. Analysts are forecasting the S&P 500 companies will post their fourth straight quarterly profit decline as a strong U.S. dollar and a slowdown in China erode earnings.
Among the big names soon to report results, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C) have already warned investors that earnings this quarter could be worse than many expect.
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