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Gas prices rise in California, U.S.

But the peak is probably near, barring a major emergency that crimps supply of oil or gasoline, analysts say.

June 09, 2009|Ronald D. White

California again had the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline prices in the continental U.S. over the last week, the Energy Department said Monday.

Tight supplies helped kick the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California up 13.5 cents to $2.891, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of filling stations. That was still $1.542 below the year-earlier price.

California helped push the national average higher. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $2.624, up a dime but still $1.415 lower than it was at the same time in 2008.

Analysts predict that pump prices won't surge as they did last year to more than $4.58 a gallon in California and above $4.11 a gallon nationwide. Prices are nearing their peak for the year, barring some major supply-crimping emergency, analysts said.

"Prices may go a bit higher, but we are very close to the summit," said Fred Rozell, director of retail pricing for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J. "I really didn't expect prices to go even this high."

Crude oil, by contrast, was hit by some profit taking and a stronger dollar Monday, experts said. Light, sweet crude for July delivery finished the day 35 cents lower at $68.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Monday "brought another upward move against the euro and yen for the dollar, which makes commodity hedges less attractive," wrote Jessica Nesterak, an analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, in a note to clients.

But, she added, oil futures could soon test the $70-to-$75 range.

--

ron.white@latimes.com

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