Falling oil prices are starting to pay off at the pump.
Gasoline prices fell Tuesday for the fourth straight day, though the declines have been modest so far.
Prices of $2.74 per gallon Tuesday were less than 2 pennies under the 15-month peak of $2.7543 hit on Thursday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.
Prices still are up 15 cents in the past month and 89.8 cents from a year ago, as motorists dig deeper into their wallets to pay for fuel just as Christmas bills start to come in.
The Energy Information Administration will release average gas prices for the nation later Tuesday.
A typical motorist using about 50 gallons a month is paying about $140 for gasoline, $45 more a month than a year ago.
Gasoline prices have spiked in the past month on a jump in oil prices.
Analyst Tom Kloza said to look for larger declines in gasoline prices over the next few weeks.
January and February are typically a period of poor demand for transportation fuels.
Benchmark crude for February delivery rose 6 cents to $78.06 Tuesday in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
With the February contract set to expire Wednesday, traders were paying more attention to the March contract, which was off 19 cents a barrel at $78.18.
There was no trading Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The February contract closed at $78 a barrel on Friday.
Oil prices also were held in check Tuesday after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies roughly 35 percent of the world's crude, kept its 2010 forecast of oil demand steady at 85.15 million barrels a day. OPEC said oil inventories remain at high levels and are enough to handle any unexpected increase in demand.
In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil fell 1.55 cents to $2.0305 a gallon while gasoline dropped 0.11 cent at $2.0465 a gallon. Natural gas futures shed 6.3 cents at $5.628 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude for March delivery fell 34 cents to $76.77 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
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