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Gasoline prices rise again but may be running out of steam

June 8, 2009 |  3:52 pm

Gas prices keep rising

California again had the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline prices in the continental U.S. over the last week, the Energy Department said today.

Tight supplies helped kick the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California up 13.5 cents to $2.891, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of filling stations. That was still $1.542 below the year-earlier price.

California pushed average prices higher for both the West Coast and the nation. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $2.624, up a dime, but still $1.415 lower than it was in 2008.

Analysts predict that pump prices won’t surge as they did last year to more than $4.58 a gallon in California and above $4.11 a gallon nationwide. Prices were nearing their peak for the year, analysts said, barring some major supply-crimping emergency.

“Prices may go a bit higher, but we are very close to the summit,” said Fred Rozell, director of retail pricing for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J. “I really didn’t expect prices to go even this high.”

Crude oil, by contrast, was hit by some profit taking and a stronger dollar today, experts said. Light, sweet crude for July delivery finished the day lower by 35 cents at $68.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Today brought another upward move against the euro and yen for the dollar, which makes commodity hedges less attractive,” wrote Jessica Nesterak, U.S. Gulf Coast analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, in a note to clients. But, she added, oil futures could soon test the $70-to-$75 range.

-- Ron White

Photo credit: Associated Press