Gas prices crept downward overnight, with the five-county Philadelphia area today seeing an average price of $1.86, 1 cent less, for a gallon of regular no-lead, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

South Jersey's average declined 2 cents, to $1.58. The national average also was down 2 cents, to $1.70.

Diesel prices also moved down slightly: The Philly area's average was down 2 cents, to $2.91. South Jersey's average was down 3 cents, to $2.57, and the national average dipped 1 cent, to $2.63.

Oil prices slipped below $43 yesterday as investors questioned whether a big production cut - expected to be announced by OPEC next week - would be able to curb crude's stunning 70 percent free-fall over the last five months.

Expectations of the output cut have helped oil prices come off four-year lows touched last week, but analysts are now wondering how large an impact it can have as the global economy struggles with recession.

The fall in oil prices was limited somewhat by news that President-elect Barack Obama plans to implement a major infrastructure program to help boost employment in the weakening U.S. economy.

"With all the stimulus packages and output cuts by OPEC, we may see the oil price stabilizing," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery fell 74 cents to $42.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange by noon in Europe. The contract fell overnight $2.90 to settle at $43.71.

Prices fell last week to an intraday low of $40.50, the lowest since December 2004.