Better Than Expected

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Better Than Expected

WASHINGTON -- Following a record jump in U.S. gasoline costs this spring, the U.S. government said summer pump prices would be slightly less than previously forecast and average $1.44 per gallon.

Gasoline prices, which soared a record 23 cents a gallon during March, have come under closer scrutiny by federal lawmakers and state officials. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast a nationwide average price of $1.44 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline during the April-September summer driving season. EIA said that figure was down 2 cents a gallon from its prior estimate and 10 cents less than last year, the Associated Press reported.

The Energy Department's analytical arm said pump prices have stabilized over the last several weeks, but that they were expected to go up again.

"It is likely that pump prices will soon rise after this current pause, since crude oil prices and demand for gasoline are both expected to increase over the next several months," EIA said.

An EIA reported yesterday revealed gasoline prices increased for the first time in four weeks, rising a slight 0.2 cent a gallon over the last week to an average $1.40. The agency raised its estimate for daily U.S. gasoline demand during the summer driving season by 30,000 barrels to a record 8.9 million barrels a day.

Assuming no major supply disruptions, EIA said pump prices should peak at close to $1.50 a gallon within the next month or two, compared to last May's record high of $1.70.