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Oil prices fall amid shaky earnings, debt Gasoline is averaging $3.44 at pump in U.S.

International oil prices fell Tuesday on disappointing corporate earnings in the United States and doubts that European leaders can agree on a plan to resolve that region's debt crisis.

The price of Brent, which is used to price oil imported into the United States, fell by 53 cents to end the day at $110.92 per barrel.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the United States fell by less than a penny overnight to a national average of $3.446 a gallon. Gas prices have dropped by about 50 cents a gallon since the spring, and motorists could see them slide by an additional 20 cents before the end of the year. That's because people drive less in the fall than in the summer, and refineries produce winter fuel blends that are less expensive to make.

In the Buffalo Niagara region, a gallon of regular averaged $3.69 on Tuesday, down by 7 cents from a month ago.

"There's a lot of relief at the pump," said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com. DeHaan expects pump prices to fall to as low as $3.25 a gallon by year's end.

Compared with last year, motorists are buying much less gasoline, even for the fall. MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks retail gasoline purchases in the United States, says drivers have cut back at the pump for nearly eight months in a row.

MasterCard's latest survey, which was released Tuesday, said motorists bought 61.8 million barrels of gasoline last week, 2.8 percent less than the same period last year. Experts say motorists are cutting back because they simply can't afford to buy more. Prices flirted with $4 a gallon in May.

Overall, gasoline is expected to average $3.52 a gallon this year, a record high for the average price.

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