Pueblo's average gas price is under $2 for the first time in about 18 months.

Also, the average price continues to fall closer in line with other other Front Range cities, who saw their gas prices drop faster starting around December.

As of Monday morning, Pueblo's average price was $1.98 per gallon of regular, according to travel group AAA Colorado's daily price survey.

A number of local stations listed prices in the $1.94 to $1.96 range with at least one station, the Sam's Club on the North Side, advertising a price of $1.90,  according to gasbuddy.com's onling price tracking website.

Pueblo's average price is on par with Fort Collins-Loveland at $1.97 and modestly higher than Denver at $1.93 and Colorado Springs at $1.89, according to the AAA survey.

The price gap began to narrow within the past couple of weeks. Before then, Pueblo's average price had been running 25 cents to 30 cents higher than other Front Range cities since before Christmas, a situation that left local motorists frustrated. Gas industry executives have yet to offer a public explanation for the disparity.

The last time local gas prices dropped to $2 was ahead of the Fourth of July holiday in 2017. That summer, abundant gasoline and low oil prices caused a rare midsummer drop in U.S. gas prices. Nationally, the prices fell to their lowest midsummer level in 12 years.

Today, oil prices are down again and U.S. gas prices are following suit. The national average price of $2.28 per gallon of regular as of Monday was down 30 cents from a year ago, according to AAA. Colorado's average of $2.01 was down from $2.48 a year ago, a savings of 47 cents per gallon.

Oil prices recently rebounded a bit but they fell back again last week.

"With oil prices sinking last week to $51 per barrel on concerns over a slowdown in trade talks with China, many states saw a respite in gas prices," Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for fuel industry researcher GasBuddy, said in a statement Monday.

Still, a price increase is anticipated in coming weeks, he said. Regardless of the cost of oil, springtime usually brings a bump in gas prices as fuel providers switch to summer gasoline blends, he said.

"As pipeline specifications begin to shift towards the first step towards summer gasoline requirements in the weeks ahead, the overhang in gasoline inventories will likely start to dry up and push gas prices higher," he said.

The lower gas prices are helping fuel consumer spending in other areas, DeHaan and other analysts say.

GasBuddy estimates that fuel will average about $2.70 a gallon across the U.S. in 2019 and that the average household will spend about $1,991 on gasoline. That is a decline compared to the $2,016 spent per household last year and major savings from seven or eight years ago, when high gas costs caused spending of well above $2,500 a year.

Beyond the hundreds of dollars in savings a year for consumers, lower fuel prices result in reduced prices for almost everything consumers purchase, since 80 to 85 percent of freight is moved by truck at some point along the way, said Gary Langston, president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association.

"I don't think there's any question that low fuel prices have helped keep the economy going," said Langston, adding that the impact is felt throughout the economy including at trucking firms that might have additional money to invest in their people and equipment.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

ddarrow@chieftain.com

Twitter: @PuebloBusiness