After declining in 34 of the previous 36 weeks, the average price of diesel fuel has risen for the second straight week, jumping 13 cents to $2.22/gal. nationally.
That hike, though, may be due to nothing more than prices catching up with the cost of a barrel of crude, according to one expert.
“In our view, it’s just tied to the increase in oil,” Longbow Research transportation analyst Lee Klaskow told FleetOwner. “Sometimes there is just a lag between oil going up and diesel going up. Longer term, when the economy gets out of the doldrums, I think you’ll see an increase, but I don’t think we’ll see prices reaching the levels they did last summer.”
The 6.27% increase for the week of March 23 follows a seven-cent increase the week before. A year ago, the price was $3.96/gal. Across the nation, the East Coast saw an 11-cent increase, but the gain was just two cents in New England. Much of the rest of the nation saw an increase of between 8 and 14 cents with California posting a 17-cent spike.
After a 56% drop in the previous three months, a barrel of crude oil has gained 11% this quarter. According to Klaskow, the upward trend of the past two weeks isn’t predicative of a coming price spike. “I don’t know if this is necessarily a trend,” he said. “A few days ago, we did see a decline; we’ll have to wait and see.”
According to Bloomberg News, crude oil is expected to post its biggest monthly gain in almost a year due in part to a weaker dollar. Crude for May delivery rose $1.26 in morning trading to $49.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, but then quickly dropped back to $48.34 by mid-morning. It closed down nearly $4 on Monday after touching $54 a barrel last week.
Fleets hauling bulk materials have seen a nearly two-cent increase in cost per mile charges, with refrigerated haulers taking a 1.61-cent rise, tank carriers a 1.4-cent jump, and general freight haulers a 1.63-cent spike.