Gas prices below $4 amid signs inflation easing

STORY: A sign of relief at the pump.

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. fell below $4 per gallon on Thursday for the first time in months.

Prices, tracked by the American Automobile Association, peaked at a record $5.02 in June.

U.S. President Joe Biden has taken several steps to curb oil prices in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The White House is in the midst of releasing more than 180 million barrels of crude oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

And U.S. oil output has risen by about 500,000 barrels per day.

At one point, crude oil, the main driver of gasoline prices, reached $139 a barrel; it was at $92 on Wednesday.

Lower energy prices are driving down measures of inflation. Consumer prices in July, measured by the U.S. Labor Department, were flat compared with the month before.

And data released Thursday showed that wholesale prices - what producers pay for goods - actually fell in July compared with June.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that blunting inflation was a sign the economy was on track, but cautioned there was still work to be done.

"Our work is far from over but two things should be clear: First, the economic plan is working. And second, it's building an economy that will reward work. Wages are up this month, provide opportunity, help the middle class, and still have work to do. But, we're on track."

Biden's political aides regard gas prices as especially sensitive with voters ahead of the November midterm elections. The surge in prices coincided with a record-low approval rating for the 46th president.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week showed Biden's popularity inched up slightly, amid a string of legislative victories and signals that price pressures may finally be easing.