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Fuel Prices Creep Up

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Gas prices crept up 3 cents in the past three weeks, ending a 15-week price crash that began with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the Lundberg Survey.

Gas prices at about 8,000 gas stations nationwide averaged $1.12 a gallon for self-serve regular, analyst Trilby Lundberg said. The price per gallon for all grades and taxes was $1.15, up 3.27 cents from Dec. 21, the date of the last Lundberg Survey.

The national average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps was about $1.12 a gallon for regular unleaded, $1.22 for mid-grade and $1.31 for premium.

The weeks to come could see additional moderate, but not extreme, price increases, Lundberg said.

"The turnaround had to happen sometime after a glut of gasoline relative to demand developed due to post-nine-eleven weak demand, and from seasonal and economic conditions," Lundberg said. "A slight increase in crude oil prices in the past three weeks supported the gasoline price turnaround."

Prices dropped nearly 45 cents a gallon from Sept. 7 -- the last Lundberg Survey before the Sept. 11 attacks -- to Dec. 21. Just over a year ago, on Jan. 5, 2001, a gallon of gas cost about 34 cents more than it does now.

Lundberg said she doesn't expect sharp increases in gas prices soon, barring unexpected developments that could threaten the world's oil supply. "As always, if it is perceived that oil supply anywhere -- but certainly in the Middle East -- appears threatened, crude oil prices will jump, and gasoline prices will respond," she said.
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