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Gasoline prices keep rising nationwide

Three more states' average prices top $4 for a gallon of regular gasoline. California's average price edges down 0.1 of a cent.

March 20, 2012|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
  • An Exxon filling station in Washington, D.C., shows above-average gasoline prices last week.
An Exxon filling station in Washington, D.C., shows above-average gasoline… (Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty…)

Pump prices rose in most of the nation during the last week, with three more states joining the $4-a-gallon club, according to reports from the Energy Department and AAA.

Across the United States, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $3.867 on Monday, up 3.8 cents in a week, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of service stations. That was 30.5 cents higher than the old record for the third Monday in March, which was set last year.

In California, the average dropped 0.1 of a cent to $4.375 a gallon, still 40.9 cents above the old record for this week of the year, which was also set in 2011.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said prices "will likely not peak until we get closer to the month of May as a majority of localities are still switching to summer gasoline."

Summer gasoline, designed to reduce evaporation of pollutants during warm weather, is more expensive to produce than winter gasoline.

In another fuel price survey, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said the number of states averaging $4 or more for a gallon of regular gasoline had risen to six: California, Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, New York and Connecticut. The latter three joined in the last week.

U.S. refineries continue to export record amounts of fuel, primarily diesel, according to Energy Department statistics. Refiners are exporting at a rate of 3.156 million barrels a day, up 36% from a year ago and double the amount exported five years ago.

In New York futures trading, crude oil rose $1.03 to reach $108.09 a barrel. In London, oil fell 10 cents to $125.71 a barrel.

ron.white@latimes.com

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