October 27, 2009 in Business

Gas prices continuing to increase

Dirk Lammers Associated Press

Oil price falls

The price of a barrel of oil, which rose to $82 last week, tumbled more than 2 percent Monday as the dollar strengthened after hitting a 14-month low. Because commodities are priced in dollars, a drop in the U.S. currency makes them cheaper to international investors.

Retail gas prices are spiking to levels last seen in the heat of summer driving season, raising fears that consumers could cut back on holiday spending.

Although the crude rally propelling the jump at the pump hit the brakes Monday, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose for the 13th straight day, climbing six-tenths of a cent overnight to $2.671, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

That’s still below what drivers were paying at this time last year, but the 20-cent, two-week jump could prompt consumers to spend less over the holidays, said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist with Moody’s Economy. com.

“If they’re spending more money at the pump, they’re going to be less willing to go out to the malls to spend frivolously,” Sweet said.

The Energy Information Administration on Monday put the U.S. average for unleaded regular at $2.674 per gallon, a 10-cent jump from the previous week, marking the fourth straight increase.

Gas prices hit their summer peak of $2.6925 on June 21, but drivers could soon be paying more than that if prices continue inching upward. With fewer motorists on the road after summer’s end, drivers typically get a break on prices this time of year.

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