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AAA: Gas Prices Rose Before Holiday for Third Straight Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Holiday travelers spent a little more to fill up their gas tanks for the third consecutive year, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report.

Gas prices have ticked up on four consecutive days after declining 19 of 22 days to a recent low of $3.21 on Dec. 19. The low for 2013, which was also the lowest price since February 2011, came on Nov. 12 when the national average registered $3.18 per gallon.

The national average price at the pump hit $3.25 per gallon on Monday. The cost is a penny less expensive than one month ago but 2 cents more expensive than one week ago, and less than 1 cent more than the same date last year. Last Friday, the national average registered a premium vs. the same date in 2012, ending a streak of 136 consecutive days with a year-over-year discount.

Even with the national average again on the rise, motorists across the country are experiencing different levels of pain at the pump compared to last year's holiday travel period. Prices in 18 states and Washington, D.C., are higher than last year -- led by 8-cent increases in Florida, Maryland and Washington, D.C. However, motorists in 32 states are still seeing a discount compared to last year's pump price, according to the report.

The yearly discount is most dramatic in four states (Montana, Nebraska, Utah and South Dakota) where prices are at least 10 cents less expensive than last year, AAA noted.

After posting some of the lowest wholesale prices in the nation this fall, gas prices in the Midwest have jumped over the last week due to a number of refinery issues, and retail prices in that region have risen as a result. The 10 highest one-week increases are all in the Midwest, including three states where prices have surged 10 cents or more: Minnesota (10 cents), Michigan (11 cents) and Ohio (13 cents).

Rising gas prices have been a recurring theme the past few holiday seasons. In 2011, national pump prices registered a low for the second half of the year ($3.21) on Dec. 21 before increasing 17 cents in 19 days as mounting geopolitical tension with Iran drove prices higher. The low for 2012 -- $3.22 -- came on Dec. 20, before prices surged 56 cents by the end of February due to refinery issues and production concerns.


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