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Cheaper local gas prices bucking a national trend

While gasoline prices across the nation have risen, the opposite is true in Southwest Ohio, giving motorists a price break of nearly 26 cents per gallon.

The national average for regular-grade gas hit $3.52 a gallon, the Energy Department said Monday, up 4.1 cents from a week earlier. But in the Springfield-Dayton area, the average price fell 13 cents to $3.26 a gallon as of Monday, according to GasBuddy.com.

The local average price fell another 1.6 cents Tuesday.

The national average price is spiking early. In 2008 when prices hit records above $4, the U.S. average didn’t surpass $3.50 until April. The $3.50 mark also was breached last year, but not until March.

This time, the milestone was hit weeks before prices usually rise as refineries shut down for spring maintenance, and weeks before prices rise again for the switch to more expensive summer blends.

The local dip is “a nice trend, given most of the eastern states have seen prices go up about 40 cents a gallon since the beginning of the year,” said Gregg Laskoski, Gasbuddy.com senior petroleum analyst. “I would caution that the trend in Ohio is probably not likely to continue. Everything goes up in the spring.”

Gasbuddy.com is predicting that prices in Columbus will eventually rise to between $4.20 to $4.55 a gallon near Memorial Day. Laskoski didn’t have a Miami Valley prediction.

Ohio and other Great Lakes states have a history of gas prices decreasing and then spiking overnight, Laskoski said.