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Gasoline prices continue to fall around the U.S.

May 31, 2011 | 10:09 am

Retail gasoline prices are continuing to fall across the nation but the cost of a fill-up remains extremely high, particularly in the nation's most populous urban areas.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California fell to $4.039 from $4.254 a month ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. The AAA reports daily on prices that are compiled from more than 100,000 retail outlets around the U.S. by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

CA_grph California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii are a solid bloc of red states on the AAA "price heat" map, meaning their gas prices average $3.885 a gallon or higher.

Los Angeles had an average of $4.058 a gallon, according to the AAA. But for once, the City of Angels was cheaper than some other major metropolises in the U.S.

Other red states included Illinois and New York. Illinois had the dubious distinction of matching California's average of $4.039 a gallon, down from $4.222 a month ago. Chicago still had the nation's highest big-city average at $4.200 a gallon. In New York City, the average price of a gallon of regular was $4.144.

In oil markets, the cost of crude was rising after a sharp drop in the U.S. dollar versus other world currencies made the commodity a more attractive investment option. Oil also rose on reports of pipeline problems in the Midwest.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, rose $1.59 to $102.19 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude climbed $1.97 to $116.65 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

-- Ronald D. White