The U.S. Department of Energy predicts this year's average diesel price will settle at $2.46 a gallon, the same as last month's forecast, but its forecast for 2010 is up 5 cents from last month, to $2.84.

In its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, the DOE's Energy Information Administration reports that spot prices for crude oil have been volatile, falling to $59.62 on July 14, and rising to $71.59 by August 3. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil is expected to be stable during the fourth quarter of 2009, settling at about $70 per barrel, an increase of about $$27 compared with the average for the first quarter of the year. The WTI spot price should rise slowly as economic conditions improve, to an average of $72 a barrel in 2010, predicts the EIA.

The EIA says gasoline could again hit its June 22 peak of $2.69 later this summer, as it is strongly influenced by changes in crude oil prices, which have been volatile. The annual average gasoline retail price is expected to be $2.34 per gallon for 2009 and increase to $2.66 per gallon in 2010.