Aussie dollar eases local petrol pump pain

Christian Edwards
(Australian Associated Press)

Stiff resistance from the Australian dollar is helping keep a cap on rising petrol pump prices as New Year holiday travellers hit the roads.

Aussie motorists now pay, on average, 10 cents a litre more when they fill up with petrol compared to this time last year when they forked out $1.25 a litre, on average.

CommSec estimating an Aussie family pumps around $229 every month into the family car, $25 more when compared to this time in 2017.

But, CommSec chief economist Craig James says, it could have been far worse – if the Australian dollar had fallen rather than risen in the past 12 months.

He said a falling Australian dollar would have made imports of oil, which is priced in US dollars, more expensive, but thankfully the local currency had lifted from 72 US cents to 78 US cents in 2017.

The currency gain had offset the rise in oil prices brought about by OPEC-led production restrictions to tackle a global oversupply.

In 2017, the Nymax price of crude oil jumped 12.5 per cent, with Brent leaping 17 per cent.

Brent, at 1410 AEDT on Tuesday, was just above $US67 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediary (WTI, or US) was approaching $US61.

“There are no signs as yet of a softening of oil prices, but a firm Aussie dollar is serving to restrain pump prices for local motorists,” Mr James said in a statement on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Australian terminal gate, or wholesale, price for petrol stood at 123.3 cents a litre after hitting a six-week low of 123.0 cents a litre last Thursday.

Mr James said that Sydney and Adelaide pump prices were nearing the lows in their current discounting cycle, while Melbourne and Brisbane prices “still have some way to go to”.


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