Diesel continued its downward trend last week, falling 1.2 cents in the fuel's fourth straight weekly drop
, according to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration.

In its weekly diesel report, released Friday due to winter storms, the EIA said diesel landed at a national average of $2.769 a gallon, down from the prior week's $2.781 per gallon. Over the last four weeks, trucking's main fuel has dropped 11 cents. The Feb. 8 price is up 55 cents from a year ago.

The New England and the Central Atlantic regions had the highest prices, at $3.014 and $2.920, respectively. The lowest averages were found in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions, at $2.724 and $2.729 a gallon, respectively.

The EIA also released its Short-Term Energy Outlook last week, which indicated that diesel prices should average $2.95 per gallon in 2010 and $3.16 in 2011, off from last month's projections of $2.98 and $3.14 a gallon, respectively. The agency attributes the diesel prices to the expected recovery in the consumption of diesel fuel in the U.S., and the growth of distillate fuel usage outside of the U.S.

Following a four-day rally, oil prices dropped off at the end of last week on news that China will tighten lending, reports the Associated Press. The news caused investors to be concerned that demand for crude from China would diminish. Benchmark crude was down $1.15 Friday to $74.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the AP says.