The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in the Inland Empire dropped Thursday for the 16th consecutive day, falling a half-cent to $3.61, its lowest amount since Dec. 23.

   The average price in Riverside and San Bernardino counties has dropped 7.1 cents over the past 16 days, including three-tenths of a cent on Wednesday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.   

   The average price is 3.1 cents less than one week ago, unchanged from one month ago and 9 cents lower than one year ago.

   The falling prices are the result of dropping wholesale prices stemming from ``reports of large local fuel inventories,'' Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California told City News Service.