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THE ECONOMY

Gasoline prices rise again after a four-week drop

The national average for regular climbs 4 cents to $2.503 per gallon. The California average holds steady at $2.829.

July 28, 2009|Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Pump prices have begun rising again across much of the U.S., the Energy Department said, ending a four-week run of declines as retail gasoline prices followed oil prices higher.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. increased 4 cents over the last week to $2.503, the Energy Department reported, based on its weekly survey of filling stations. California's average remained unchanged at $2.829.

Gas prices had been on a steady decline from a peak on June 22 of $2.691 for the U.S. average and $3.005 for the California average. California's average price, the highest in the nation, was down $1.488 from the same time last year; the U.S. average was down $1.452.

The lowest average fuel price was on the Gulf Coast, where gas rose 4.6 cents to $2.367 a gallon.

The increase in the retail gas price came as a bit of a surprise as U.S. supplies of crude oil have grown over the last six weeks, which helped spur the recent decline in the price at the pump.

Crude oil prices rallied over the last week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average passed the 9,000 mark for the first time since January with an 11% increase over the last nine days. Two weeks ago, crude oil hit an eight-week low.

On Monday, crude for September delivery rose 33 cents to $68.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

It's too early to tell whether the recent rise in oil prices will cause gas prices to take another upswing, as seen earlier this summer, or decline, said Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

"The price of oil has been inching up over the last couple weeks, and production levels have been trimmed back because demand has been soft and there's a surplus of oil on the market," Spring said. "So [refineries] are looking to find that balance on price and production.

"It's hard to say right now whether or not prices will swing up or down. One week doesn't make a trend."

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nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com

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