Thanksgiving weekend travel: Gas prices up, but easing, oil outlook higher

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These five tips will help prepare you for the holiday driving season.
USA TODAY

Thanksgiving weekend motorists rejoice: Although gas prices are at their highest in three years, costs are finally edging lower as the impact of Hurricane Harvey and other disruptions begin to ease.

Consumer-information app GasBuddy projects a national average price of $2.53 per gallon for the holiday, marking the highest point for gas since 2014’s $2.79.

Yet that level is still far below 2012’s all-time high of $3.44 — and costs have fallen by 3 cents from a week ago, according to GasBuddy and AAA. 

GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said gasoline supplies are finally recovering after Hurricane Harvey battered refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, forcing dozens to temporarily shut down. The Midwest was especially hard-hit.

“Wholesale prices in the Great Lakes have come down a significant amount,” which will likely lead to sharp retail price cuts, he said.

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To be sure, the fuel news isn’t all rosy.A year ago, prices averaged $2.13, according to AAA. And DeHaan said last year’s slew of gas stations selling fuel for less than $2 has dried up.

In any event, drivers are not fazed by the year-over-year cost increase. An estimated 50.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more to get to their destinations over the four-day weekend, the most since 2005, according to AAA.

That marks a 3.3% jump from 2016, representing about 1.6 million additional travelers.

“A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season,” said Bill Sutherland, a senior vice president for the travel organization AAA.

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Millions of travelers will hit the road, board planes, and charter trains to get to their Thanksgiving destination. Sometimes the journey will be flawless, but you should e prepared for delays during this busy time of year.
USA TODAY

Oil prices jump

Meanwhile, U.S. oil prices rose to a two-year high on Friday as North American markets were affected by the partial closing of the Keystone pipeline that links Canada’s oilfields with U.S. refineries.

U.S. light crude traded 1.38% higher at $58.81 per barrel, the highest since July 1, 2015, Reuters reported.

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The oil spill that prompted the partial shutdown was supporting the rise of U.S. crude costs, PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga told the wire service.

OPEC and Russia now agree on the need for approving an additional period of oil supply cuts through the end of 2018,  Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing unidentified people involved in the talks for a scheduled Nov. 30 OPEC meeting.

Hopes are high for the session, Bob Minter, an investment strategist at Aberdeen Asset Management, told Bloomberg. “OPEC will surely extend the program of cuts — it’s hard to imagine that they’d let markets get this far ahead of themselves without any basis,” said Minter.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc

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