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Oil and gas prices rise on optimism about the economy

January 4, 2010 |  6:05 pm
Solid manufacturing data at home and abroad sent U.S. markets soaring Monday, boosting hopes that that global economy is picking up steam. But some motorists won’t be happy with the result.

Crude oil leapfrogged its 2009 peak, rising $2.15 a barrel to close at $81.51. That’s its highest level since October 2008. Pump prices for gasoline are sure to follow, analysts said.

Retail gasoline prices are already on the rise at the start of a month in which they usually drop as Americans return from holiday road trips.

In California, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline rose 5.4 cents over the last week to $2.987, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of U.S. filling stations.

Some experts were predicting California gas prices in the $3.15-a-gallon range or higher and a national average of $2.75 a gallon in the coming weeks.

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-- Ronald D. White