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Gas prices rise an average of 4 cents across U.S.; no change in California

July 27, 2009 |  6:02 pm

Gasoline prices spurt higher

Pump prices have begun rising again across much of the U.S., the Energy Department said, ending a four-week run of declines as retail gasoline prices followed oil prices higher.

The U.S average price for a gallon of regular gasoline saw a 4-cent increase over the last week to $2.503, the Energy Department reported today based on its weekly survey of filling stations. California’s average remained unchanged at $2.829.

Gas prices had been on a steady decline from a June 22 peak of $2.691 for the U.S. average and $3.005 for the California average. California’s price, the highest in the nation, was down $1.488 from this time last year; the U.S. average was down $1.452.

Average fuel prices were lowest on the Gulf Coast, where gas rose 4.6 cents to $2.367 a gallon.
The increase in the retail gas price came as a bit of a surprise as U.S. supplies of crude oil have grown over the last six weeks, which helped spur the recent decline in prices at the pump.

Crude oil prices rallied over the last week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average passed the 9,000 mark for the first time since January with an 11% increase over the last nine days. Two weeks ago crude oil hit an 8-week low.

Today, crude for September delivery rose 33 cents to $68.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

It’s too early to tell whether the recent rise in oil prices would cause gas prices to take another upswing, as seen earlier this summer, said Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

“The price of oil has been inching up over the last couple weeks and production levels have been trimmed back because demand has been soft and there’s a surplus of oil on the market,” Spring said. “So [refineries] are looking to find that balance on price and production.

“It’s hard to say right now whether or not prices will swing up or down,” he said. “One week doesn’t make a trend.”

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: Associated Press