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Will falling gas prices stay that way?

5:21 AM, Jul 5, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News) NEW YORK - This week, the summer driving season moves into high gear and Americans are paying a lot less at the pump. The price of gas is now $3.34 a gallon -- down 60 cents in less than three months. But will that trend continue?

When we visited trucking fleet owner Andy Anastasio in Connecticut last March, his big-rigs were guzzling almost $1,400 dollars worth of diesel every time he filled a tank. Not anymore.

Asked what it costs to fuel-up these days, Anastasio answered: "To fill up a truck, about a thousand dollars."

That's a savings of $5,000 every week.

But Anastasio added: "We're cautiously optimistic. We'd like to see fuel down to $2 a gallon where it was only a couple of years ago."

But analysts say it's unlikely prices will dip that low in the future. The last Independence Day to see the average price of regular below $2 was in 2004. It peaked four years later at more than $4 dollars. That's 76 cents more than today.

"We've probably bottomed out at least for the next couple of months," said oil analyst Tom Kloza, "although it may be a very adventuresome summer."

Usually, gas prices rise just before the peak summer driving season. But this year, the law of supply and demand is not the main price driver. Instead, global economics and politics have had the most influence.

"The fear that Europe is going to fall off a cliff and drag some other countries with it has disappeared for at least July and August," said Kloza.

But Kloza says that means prices will start to creep up by September. "You have a lot more risk takers, a lot more speculators that come into the market. You couple that with reasonable economic growth. and you probably have recipe for mildly higher prices."

So gas prices may have bottomed out for the summer. But if there are disruptions in the Middle East, or if we have a particularly bad hurricane season, prices could start to rise even faster.

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