Updated: October 18, 2012 9:56AM
Chicago-area gas prices have been dropping and may continue falling into the Thanksgiving holiday, if no major world unrest or service disruption occurs.
Tuesday’s price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas, at $3.92, was down 36 cents from a month ago, according to AAA. It’s down 12.3 cents from a week ago.
In the city of Chicago, prices for regular unleaded stood at $4.14 on Tuesday, 33 cents less than a month ago and 11 cents lower than a week ago.
Why? Because refiners are pumping out winter blends of gasoline, which are more profitable, readily available and easier to produce than the more strictly regulated summer blends, one expert said.
“The refiners are spitting this stuff out like pancakes,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Things could change if the winter turns into a bone chiller or if unrest continues in Iran, Syria and Turkey, Flynn said.
Another hurt could come if Congress drives off the fiscal cliff in January, prompting spending cuts and tax increases large enough to throw the economy back into recession, Flynn said.
An increase in gas prices last month pushed up consumer prices in the Chicago area a slight 0.3 percent from August, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Year over year, prices rose 1.6 percent locally.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, inflation was tame with prices rising only 0.2 percent from August, and 1.8 percent from a year ago.
Food prices edged down 0.2 percent from August. Grocery prices slid 0.4 percent, while the cost of eating out increased 0.2 percent. Grocery prices fell for spices, seasonings, condiments and sauces, ice cream and related products, candy and chewing gum. Prices rose for snacks and carbonated drinks. Year-over-year food prices rose 1 percent.