Susquehanna Valley gas prices fell a fraction of a penny, remaining at $3.50 a gallon Tuesday, according to AAA East Central.

On the national front

Tuesday's national average price at the pump is $3.27 per gallon. This is a fraction of a penny less expensive than one week ago, four cents less than one month ago and 25 cents less than the same date last year.

Cold temperatures across much of the country have led to weak demand, which has kept prices flat to begin 2014.

Despite the quiet start to the year, the national average may increase within the next few weeks due to several seasonal factors.

Those factors include increased demand, scheduled refinery maintenance which often begins in February between strong demand periods for winter heating oil and summer gasoline and the mandated switchover to summer-blend gasoline production in advance of the May 1 deadline. State prices may also fluctuate significantly during this time.

Gas prices are often volatile during the first few months of the year. In 2013, the national average jumped 49 cents from Jan. 1 and peaked at $3.79 Feb. 27. In 2012, pump prices surged 66 cents from the same date to a peak of $3.94 April 5. In 2011, prices soared 91 cents to a peak of $3.98 May 5.

Crude oil prices, like retail gasoline prices, have been relatively flat during the past few weeks. This trend continued Monday because West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled $1.06 lower at $96.43 per barrel at the close formal trading on the NYMEX.

(AAA East Central - a not-for-profit association with 82 local offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Kentucky servicing 2.7 million members - provides Fuel Gauge each week.)