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Gas Prices Inch Up as Holiday Travelers Hit the Road

The national average rose 5 cents to rest at $3.50 heading into the July Fourth weekend.
Woman driving a car during the summer

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The average price of gas shook off nearly three weeks of stagnation, moving 5 cents higher since last week to hit $3.50, just as travelers get ready to head out for the July Fourth holiday. 

[Read more: Nearly 71M Travelers Expected Over Fourth of July Holiday]

According to a new report from AAA, the move came as the cost of oil crossed the $80 per barrel mark, putting upward pressure on pump prices. As oil costs account for about 54% of what drivers pay at the pump, more expensive oil usually leads to more expensive gas.

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"Summer got off to a slow start last week with low gas demand," said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. "But with a record 60 million travelers forecast to hit the road for the July Fourth holiday, that number could pop over the next 10 days. But will oil stay above $80 a barrel, or will it sag again? Stay tuned."

Several states also plan to adjust fuel taxes and fees starting July 1. Indiana is increasing the tax on gasoline/gasohol by 1 cent to 35 cents per gallon, while Virginia is increasing its tax on gasoline, gasohol and alternative fuels to 30.8 cents per gallon. 

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration, gas demand fell from 9.38 million barrels per day to 8.96 million last week. This demand level is about 240,000 below the same week of last year. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks rose from 231.2 to 233.9 million barrels. 

[Read more: Convenience Store News Industry Report 2024: A Trying Year]

Low gasoline demand and increasing supply may help counter higher oil costs, slowing any rise in pump prices, AAA stated.

The nation's current top 10 most expensive markets are California ($4.80), Hawaii ($4.71), Washington ($4.21), Oregon ($4.07), Nevada ($4.04), Alaska ($3.90), Illinois ($3.88), Michigan ($3.70), Washington, D.C. ($3.66) and Indiana ($3.65).

The nation's current top 10 least expensive markets are Mississippi ($2.91), Louisiana ($3.01), Arkansas ($3.01), Oklahoma ($3.08), Alabama ($3.09), Texas ($3.10), Kansas ($3.10), Tennessee ($3.12), Missouri ($3.12) and South Carolina ($3.21).

At the close of the formal trading session on June 26, West Texas Intermediate rose 7 cents to $80.90 a barrel, up from $78.50 two weeks earlier. 

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