Gas prices continue downward trend

BALTIMORE -  

Pain at the pump continued to ease as prices dropped for the fifth consecutive week, extending a sharp decline that has eased fears that prices would be headed into record territory just in time for the summer driving season.

The national average price for regular grade gasoline dropped 7 cents this week and 21 cents since its April peak to $3.73 per gallon Friday. Prices are 19 cents lower than a month ago, 23 cents below year ago prices and 38 cents lower than the all-time record high of $4.11 per gallon set in July 2008.

"While gas prices remain high, pain at the pump has eased a bit over the past few weeks, which is welcome relief as the summer driving season kicks off in less than two weeks with Memorial Day weekend," said Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Maryland's average gas prices remain slightly below the national average with a gallon of regular grade coming in at $3.68. That's 8 cents less than last week.

Baltimore fares even better with a gallon of regular averaging $3.65. Last week's average was $3.72.

AAA's Avarella has more good news for summer travel. "After many $4.00-plus gas price predictions for summer 2012, some analysts now say the worst pain at the pump is behind us for the year. OPIS chief oil analyst Tom Kloza believes prices should gradually deline this summer, estimating the national average could slip as low as $3.50 per gallon by the Fourth of July."

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