updated 5:36 p.m. PT, Sun., March. 9, 2008
NEW YORK - U.S. average retail gasoline prices have reached a new high of almost $3.20 per gallon and will likely jump another 20 to 30 cents in the next month, worsening the pain of consumers struggling to make ends meet in an economic downturn.
Gasoline prices are rising sharply as refiners, who have kept prices down in order to compete for sales, become more willing to pass on their higher costs of crude oil, according to an industry analyst on Sunday.
The national average for self-serve regular unleaded gas was nearly $3.20 a gallon on March 7, up about 9.44 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of about 7,000 gas stations. The price has risen 64 cents per gallon in the past 12 months.
"The price increase was entirely due to the higher costs of crude oil," said survey editor Trilby Lundberg.
Although the latest price represents a nominal all-time high, when adjusted for inflation it is a smidgen below the record of $3.18 per gallon reached on May 18, 2007, Lundberg said.
Lundberg said things will likely get worse, with prices at the pump rising 20 to 30 cents per gallon in the next month as refiners begin passing on to customers more of their higher costs for crude oil.
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