While local drivers have been seeing gasoline prices at their lowest levels in years, people saving for retirement or nearing it have found no solace in the overall market’s sudden drop in oil and equities valuations.
According to GasBuddy.com, prices at the pump on Thursday in Champaign County ranged from $1.57 to $1.65 per gallon. And in Columbus, gasoline briefly touched $1.20 per gallon due to a local pricing war between stations.
Ohio drivers are seeing an average price at the gas pump of about $1.66 for a gallon of regular fuel. As recently as July of 2014, national average gasoline prices were $3.56 per gallon.
The state average reported in Tuesday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. was about 16 cents lower than the average price drivers were paying a week ago and about 33 cents below what they were paying a year ago.
Ohio’s prices for regular gas continue running below the national average, which was about $1.88 on Tuesday. A year ago, the national average price was about $2.06.
Gas prices are expected to remain relatively low in the coming months because there is more than enough oil and gasoline around the world to meet demand. Pump prices also typically fall during winter months due to reduced demand.
Crude oil prices rebounded somewhat on Thursday after a recent stretch of price drops that have taken it below the $30 per barrel mark in recent days, levels not seen since 2003.
Consumers’ boon is investors’ bane
U.S. stock market indexes have dropped sharply since Jan. 1. Some are calling the plunge of more than 10 percent a mere market “correction,” while others are warning of bear market conditions whose inception might go back as far as spring of 2015.
Local financial planner Philip M. Edwards has made a career of advising local investors during both bear and bull markets.
“I feel that it’s more of an overdue correction (than a market meltdown),” said Edwards, whose business Phillip M. Edwards Financial Planning is located in Urbana on Monument Square. “Our company feels that in the next six months, equities will be a little bit higher. A lot of this is due to the energy prices, with the drop of crude oil.”
A severe market correction is often when investors prone by panic take note of their portfolio balances, but regular monitoring of accounts is recommended for all investors.
“I always advise clients to review their portfolios periodically, to evaluate the amount of risk they’re willing to accept,” Edwards said. “Long term, nothing changed. Short term we may make a few adjustments. As clients’ goals and needs change, their liquidity needs change. As long as goals haven’t changed, they’re not changing anything.”
Edwards said he has faith in the U.S. economy and doesn’t see the recent market plunge to start 2016 as a precursor to a widespread recession or pervasive underlying economic deficiencies.
“I believe the market’s in good shape,” he said. “We’ve had a growing economy for four or five years, so naturally there are pockets of setbacks. Overall the economy is strong. This correction is temporary.”