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Fed: Flu fears could drive petrol prices lower

By Colin Brinsden
28 Apr 2009 2:50 PM

CANBERRA, April 28 AAP - Motorists could see a five cent drop in petrol prices during the next fortnight as the global oil price falls on fears of a swine flu pandemic.

Pump prices touched a seven-week high last week as oil prices, and a range of other commodities, rose on tentative signs of improvement in the global economy, Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian said.

However, in recent days a new concern has turned the oil price on its head.

"The possibility of a swine flu pandemic has seen a sharp reversal in the global oil price," Mr Sebastian said on Tuesday.

"Traders continue to weigh up concerns of how severe the swine flu is likely to be, and if so, the significant impact it is likely to have on global air travel."

The potential for a drop in jet fuel demand is weighing on the global oil price.

The latest weekly petrol price report by the Australian Institute of Petroleum shows the national average price for unleaded petrol rose 0.6 cents per litre to 118.9 cents in the past week.

The metropolitan price rose 0.6 cents per litre to 118.8 cents, while the regional price average gained 0.3 cents per litre to 119 cents.

"While the possibility of swine flu is dire, motorists are likely to benefit from an improvement in pump prices," Mr Sebastian said.

In recent days the wholesale petrol price has started to fall, and in Australian dollar terms, the Singapore unleaded petrol price has fallen by more than 11 per cent in just the past week.

"If the current price falls are able to be sustained then motorists can expect prices to fall by around five cents a litre over the next fortnight," he said.