Record gas prices plateau in US over the weekend

The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. finally stalled out on Sunday. AAA reported the price fell by about a half-cent to $4.325 after hitting a record $4.326 on Saturday. 

It’s not a significant decrease by any means, but the news may signal a sign of relief for drivers after the average price of regular-grade gasoline shot up a whopping 79 cents over the past two weeks. 

Prices at the pump were rising long before Russia invaded Ukraine. Crude prices plummeted in early 2020 as economies around the world shut down because of COVID-19 — the price of futures even turned negative, meaning some sellers were paying buyers to take oil. Prices rebounded, however, as demand recovered faster than producers pulled oil out of the ground and inventories dried up.

Then, the price increase accelerated after war began.

Energy prices are also contributing to the worst inflation that Americans have seen in 40 years, far outpacing higher wages.

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit a record $4.17 a gallon on March 8 as President Joe Biden banned imports of Russian oil, gas and coal in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. But the average price per gallon continued to soar from there, hitting $4.326 on March 12. The previous record average price was set on July 17, 2008, at $4.10 per gallon.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday the current price is still quite a ways from the inflation-adjusted record high of about $5.24 per gallon.

The price at the pump is $1.54 higher than it was a year ago.

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The amount of U.S. gasoline in storage fell last week as demand starts to increase with summer approaching. The increase in gas demand and the lower trend in inventories also are contributing to rising prices at the pump.

Meanwhile, companies and lawmakers are trying to find ways to alleviate rising costs. 

Last week, lawmakers called for the suspension of gas taxes. Uber added a fuel surcharge for both customer rides and Uber Eats delivery orders. 

U.S. motorists were reeling over gas prices even before the national average surpassed record highs last week.

Two-thirds of Americans said gas prices were already too expensive even when the national average hit $3.53 per gallon a few weeks ago, according to a AAA survey. More than half of motorists, 59%, admitted that if prices hit $4 a gallon, they would make changes to their driving habits or lifestyle, according to the data.

Nationwide, the highest average price for regular-grade gas is in the San Francisco Bay Area, at $5.79 per gallon. The lowest average is in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at $3.80 per gallon.

According to the survey, the average price of diesel also spiked, up $1.18 over two weeks, to $5.20 a gallon. Diesel costs $2.11 more than it did one year ago.

RELATED: President Biden bans Russian oil imports over Ukraine war

Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war has entered its third week and has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee. 

Over the weekend, Russia escalated attacks in western Ukraine with a deadly airstrike on a military base where its troops had trained with NATO forces, bringing the conflict closer to Poland and other members of the bloc.

The U.S. deployed more troops to Europe on Friday to support NATO.

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press and FOX Business contributed.