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AAA: Gas prices continue to rise

The continuing increase in the retail price of gasoline remains bothersome to motorists.

This week consumers in nearly half of the states (23), including Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, encountered year-over-year price increases when they pulled up to the self-serve gas kiosk. If the upward drift continues, energy analysts fear the higher-than-a-year-ago price contagion will spread to other states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia.

As of Friday, motorists across the nation find themselves paying three cents more than they did on this same day a year ago. For this reason, analysts at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) are saying the “trends indicate that more than half of the country may see year-on-year increases by mid-month.”

Compounding matters, average retail prices for gasoline are 9 cents higher than last week. That unsettling trend may carry through to the beginning of autumn, analysts also indicate. Motorists continue to cast a wary eye at the self-serve gas kiosk. Who could blame them?  Although it was an anomaly for this time of year, motorists were unnerved by July’s sizeable spike in retail pump prices. In fact, the 17 cent increase in gas prices in July was the largest ever for that month. As of Friday, gas prices were 29 cents higher than the same day last month.

This is the seventh straight week prices at the self-serve gas kiosk have risen and analysts are rounding up the usual suspects for this’s week jump in prices. They are pointing the finger of blame at the series of mishaps at key refineries throughout the country, economic news both domestically and internationally, serious political unrest in Syria, continuing tensions in the Middle East, and concerns of the effects on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that might be caused by Tropical Storm Ernesto.

Crude oil prices also continue to rise, having closed Friday at $92.87 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

“Certainly motorists should be concerned about a 10-cent increase in gas prices in a week’s time and a nearly 30 cent spike in a month,” said Martha M. Meade, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.  “Motorists in many parts of the country and in our area are seeing a reversal in gas prices and they are paying higher prices for a gallon of unleaded regular than they did at this time last year. Nationally, that happened this Thursday for the first time in 107 days, ending a streak dating back to April 24, 2012. Though they are discomfited by this, the trend probably won’t last. We continue to project that by Labor Day prices at the pump will go back down to more manageable levels.”

The recent surge in gas prices has been partially the result of recent positive economic news and a broader bullish sentiment for U.S. equities and commodities markets alike. Beyond this rising market tide, supply disruptions in the Midwest, centering on the Enbridge pipeline shutdown in Wisconsin last Tuesday, have sent prices up in that state and spilling over to nearby regions as well.