WASHINGTON — Gas prices will average $1.98 a gallon nationwide in 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly short-term energy outlook.
Just a few weeks ago, it said gas prices would average $2.03 a gallon in 2016.
The EIA said the average retail regular gasoline price in January was $1.95 a gallon, a decrease of 9 cents a gallon from December and the first time monthly gas prices averaged below $2 a gallon since March 2009.
"EIA expects the monthly average retail price of U.S. regular gasoline to reach a seven-year low of $1.82 a gallon in February 2016, before rising during the spring," it said.
The steady decrease in pump prices is expected to further ignite truck and SUV sales, as gas prices become a non-issue for most car shoppers. A huge global oil glut is behind the slide in pump prices.
Edmunds.com notes that light trucks — including pickups and SUVs — have outsold cars for more than two years, with no signs of a slowdown.
The federal government said the decline in gas prices since 2014 put an extra $700 in the pockets of American households in 2015, providing a significant boost in discretionary income.
The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report on Friday pegged the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline at $1.69, versus $2.23 a year ago.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers factoring in pump prices will want to note this latest report from the federal government.