Average U.S. retail gasoline price falls below $4.50 a gallon – AAA

(Reuters) -The U.S. average retail gasoline price fell to $4.495 a gallon on Tuesday, slipping below $4.50 for the first time in nine weeks, data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) showed.

The price of U.S. gasoline averaged more than $5 a gallon for the first time ever on July 11, but since then prices have come down, as overall supply has increased and U.S. demand has moderated to some extent, in part due to higher rates.

The White House has tried a number of efforts to reduce prices, including a release of 180 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic reserves designed to flood the market with supply.

While that has worked partly, prices have remained somewhat elevated due to tightness in refining capacity worldwide.

Retail prices follow the trend in wholesale gasoline futures, which have been falling at a more accelerated rate than retail prices.

As of Monday, wholesale U.S. gasoline futures were at $3.27 a gallon, down from a high of $4.31 a gallon on June 3. That gap between retail and wholesale prices is still larger than the average, which augurs for lower prices at the pump in coming weeks.

Even at the record of $5.02 a gallon reached in mid-June, prices were still approximately 8% below the inflation-adjusted June 2008 highs around $5.41 a gallon, according to U.S. Energy Department figures.

(Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru, Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)

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