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After a 1-day pause, gasoline prices resume rise

By Chris Kahn

AP Energy Writer

LAST UPDATED: 6:45 p.m. HST, Mar 12, 2012

NEW YORK >> The national average price of gasoline has reached $3.80 per gallon after jumping by nearly a nickel over the weekend. That's the highest ever for this time of year.

In Hawaii, the statewide average is $4.44 a gallon, up six cents in a week. Hawaii’s prices are the highest in the nation, eight cents higher than California. 
Pump prices have risen an average 52 cents this year as refineries and wholesalers pass along the higher cost of crude oil. And this month they're getting an additional boost as investors bet that supplies will shrink ahead of the summer driving season.

It's an easy bet to make, independent commodities trader Jim Ritterbusch said. Supplies tend to fall in April as refineries sell off their existing gasoline inventories to make room for a different blend that's required in the summer. And driving tends to go up in the summer as schools go on vacation.

"Every year between March and May, you have a lot of people buying into this market," Ritterbusch said. "They're trying to stay ahead of the crowd" and buy gasoline while it's still relatively cheap. 

Gas prices actually went down last week for one day -- March 6 -- after 27 straight days of increase. But the pause was only temporary and prices began going up again.

Honolulu’s average price is at $4.33 a gallon, roughly the same as Sunday. Prices are up seven cents from last Monday, 26 cents from last month and are 44 cents higher than this date last year, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Already drivers in several states including Illinois, New York, Washington D.C., Michigan, Connecticut, Oregon and Washington are paying prices around the $4 mark.California drivers are paying an average of $4.36.

Wyoming motorists are paying the least for gas at $3.30 per gallon. 

The Oil Price Information Service says national average gas prices could rise as high as $4.25 per gallon. Prices will likely peak in late April, then fall through the summer as gasoline markets look ahead to a slowdown in travel during the fall.\

Meanwhile, oil prices fell $1.43 to $105.97 per barrel in New York after Chinese trade data suggested a weakening global economy. Natural gas dipped to a new 10-year low at $2.25 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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