Susquehanna Valley gas prices fell a fraction of a penny, remaining at $3.64 a gallon this week, according to AAA East Central.

On the national front

Tuesday's national average price at the pump is $3.49 per gallon. This price was three cents more expensive than one week ago and 20 cents more than one month ago. However, national prices are still 21 cents per gallon less than the same date last year.

While pump prices are creeping higher, AAA expects prices to peak between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon over the next month due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the May 1 required switchover for producing summer-blend gasoline. Events such as unplanned domestic refinery maintenance or further escalation of geopolitical tensions with Russia could cause prices to exceed this predication.

Rapidly escalating tensions in Ukraine pressured West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices to a more than six-month high last Monday. However, crude oil prices dropped during the week as the situation stabilized, resulting in a more than $3 per barrel drop by midweek. Market watchers will continue to monitor the Russian-Ukrainian conflict closely and the associated geopolitical tensions are likely to keep oil prices from falling too far.

Crude prices declined again Monday, but the catalyst was bearish economic data from China over the weekend rather than any further easing of tensions with Russia. A weaker than anticipated Chinese economy would be expected to consume less crude oil, which puts downward pressure on global crude prices. At the close of Monday's formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled down $1.46 at $101.12 per barrel.

(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.)