U.S. gasoline prices drop to lowest level of the year

Average Vancouver price down by a nickel this week

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Retail gasoline prices nationwide have fallen to their lowest level in a year as refineries restored production and stockpiles rose to an eight-month high.

Regular gasoline dropped 9.5 cents, or 2.8 percent, from a week earlier, to $3.254 a gallon Monday, the lowest since Dec. 19, 2011, according to data posted on the Energy Department's website. Crude prices, by comparison, were up 1.9 percent during the same one-week period in New York.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Vancouver this week is $3.31, down from $3.36 a week ago, AAA Oregon/Idaho reported Tuesday. Washington's statewide average was $3.36, down a nickel from a week ago, while the Oregon average matched Vancouver's at $3.31. Gasoline in Portland on average was $3.28 a gallon.

Prices at the pump nationwide rose as high as $3.878 in September. Retail costs are down 16 percent since then, with demand for gasoline lagging behind pre-recession levels, U.S. refineries coming back online after disruptions, and domestic crude production rising.