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U.S. gas prices continue slow summer rise

Motor club AAA expects a steady increase in prices at the pump because of higher summer demand.

By Daniel J. Graeber
U.S. gas prices continue slow summer rise
U.S. gasoline prices for consumers are moving steadily higher as the summer driving season approaches. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 25 (UPI) -- The price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States is on the increase and could move higher as summer demand figures into market metrics, analysis finds.

Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.42, relatively unchanged from last week, but 13 cents higher than one month ago.

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Refiners are moving forward with a summer blend of gasoline, which is more expensive to make because of the additional environmental safeguards needed in warmer months. Coupled with the expected rise in demand, AAA said it expects gas prices to move steadily higher.

"As gas prices continue to reach new heights and hit an all-time high for the year, the summer demand has not kicked in, meaning consumers can expect the price at the pump to continue to rise for coming weeks," it said in a weekly retail market report.

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Last week, industry data released from the American Petroleum Institute showed gasoline deliveries, an indication of demand, was the second highest for any March on record.

Demand and the shift in refinery operations already may be reflected in the West Coast, which remains the most expensive market in the country. The state average price of $3.01 per gallon in California is 1 percent higher than last month, compared with a 5.5 percent monthly increase nationally.

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The Great Lakes market remains the most volatile in the country, with Ohio and Indiana posting some of the largest increases in gas prices from last week, at 7 cents and 4 cents per gallon, respectively. Michigan ranks No. 12 in the country for states with the highest gas prices with an average of $2.52 per gallon.

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The motor club said market trends for crude oil prices, which account for the bulk of what consumers pay at the pump, could be a leveling factor despite the increases expected from demand. U.S. exploration and production activity is on the rise, which is offsetting the production ceiling by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Crude oil prices traded in negative territory Monday, with the price for Brent crude oil moving down toward the psychological benchmark of $50 per barrel.

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