Political Unrest Sets Gas Prices Afire

NEW YORK -- Gasoline surged to the highest level since August 2008 on fears that political unrest in North African will spill over to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Gasoline rose more than 3 percent as Iranian protesters clashed with security forces in Tehran and Saudi Arabia’s benchmark stock index plunged the most since November 2008 on concern political unrest in nearby Bahrain and Oman may spread to the kingdom, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

Gasoline for April delivery rose 9.07 cents to settle at $2.9834 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest level for the contract closest to expiration since Aug. 29, 2008, Bloomberg reported.

The April contract has risen 17 percent since anti- government protests began Feb. 15 against leader Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, advanced 0.7 cent to $3.375 a gallon yesterday, AAA said on its Web site.

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