But some said consumers shouldn’t celebrate just yet. Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho, believes the recovery could be brief due to a number of catalysts that could push prices higher in the coming months.
For one, refining capacity in the U.S. remains extremely tight. Should a storm knock one of the Gulf Coast refiners offline, for example, prices at the pump could move higher once again. The release of barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will also end this fall, while a rebound in economic activity in China could boost demand for petroleum products.
The biggest wild card, however, is the price of oil, which accounts for more than half of what consumers pay at the pump.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, are now trading around where they stood in February – before Russia invaded Ukraine. The contract advanced 0.7% to $92.55 per barrel on Thursday.
WTI traded above $130 in March. In recent weeks, recession fears – and a possible slowdown in demand – have sent prices tumbling.
“I think it’s going to be fleeting,” John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital, said of the declines at the pump. He noted that gasoline futures, which are a proxy for gas prices, are roughly 30 cents per gallon above their recent low.
— CNBC’s Patti Domm contributed reporting.