Oil futures edged down slightly on Friday amid Middle East instability, but gas prices continue their upward climb, bucking oil trends.
Prices for light sweet crude oil for March delivery ended Friday down 16 cents to settle at $86.20 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent North Sea crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange lost 7 cents to $102.52 per barrel.
Gas prices, however, trended up before the President’s Day holiday weekend, having gained an average of nearly 50 cents per gallon in the past year.
Regular gasoline across the nation averaged $3.16 per gallon, according to Friday’s AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which is 3 cents higher compared to last week and 5 cents higher from a month ago. One year ago, gas prices averaged $2.61.
Crude oil has not risen at the same rate as gas prices, having their price hikes subsiding on Friday after traders dumped March futures for April ones.
"It doesn't seem like there's any demand for the March [light sweet crude oil] contract," Tony Rosado of GA Global Markets told the Wall Street Journal.
However, unrest in the Middle East propped up oil prices against a potential deeper price fall, as investors worry about oil supply disturbances.
Protests in Bahrain, as well as Libya and Yemen, could threaten the flow of oil from the Middle East to Europe and North America.
Energy traders are still “concerned that they could return on Tuesday to a world that could conceivably be changed from the one left behind,” energy consulting firm Cameron Hanover said, according to the Associated Press.