Gas and oil prices move upThe Associated Press | February 04,2013AP Photo
Samir Shabo fills his tank at a Mobil gas station in Chicago last week. Gasoline prices jumped at the end of the week as rising economic growth boosted oil prices and temporary refinery outages crimped gasoline supplies on the East and West Coasts.NEW YORK — Weekend travelers did a double-take at the gas station after Friday’s biggest one-day pop in pump prices in nearly two years.
The nationwide average price for a gallon of gas jumped 4 cents overnight to $3.46 a gallon Friday, according to AAA. That made a three-day gain of 10 cents and, for the first time in 2013, gas now costs more than it did a year ago.
The biggest increases happened out West. The average price in California rose nearly 6 cents Friday to $3.82 a gallon.
The largest previous one-day gain occurred on March 4, 2011, when the average price jumped by 4.4 cents.
Overall, gas prices are now up 17 cents this year. The main reason is a 6.5 percent increase in the price of oil. But a heavy schedule of January maintenance at West Coast refineries has contributed to sharply higher prices. Meanwhile, low supplies of gas have pushed prices higher on the East Coast.
Hopes of stronger economic growth in the U.S. and abroad helped push the U.S. stock market to a five-year high in January and sent crude prices up. When economies expand, more gasoline, diesel and jet fuel are consumed by shippers and travelers.
Retail gasoline prices have risen for 15 days straight, according to AAA, Oil Price Information Service, and Wright Express. The average price for the month of January was $3.32, the second highest January average ever, although a nickel cheaper than last year’s record.
The national average price has risen in nine of the last 10 Februarys. Last year gasoline prices jumped 28 cents, or 8 percent, in February and averaged $3.55 for the month. Analysts still don’t expect prices to follow last year’s steep path through March that brought them to a high of $3.94 on April 6.
Meanwhile, oil rose Friday as traders took their cue from the soaring stock market, after some initial disappointment with the latest report on U.S. employment, which saw 157,000 jobs added in January.
Oil dropped about $1 right after the report was released. It turned around as U.S. stock markets opened higher. Also, a separate report showed U.S. manufacturing activity grew at a faster pace in January, which is a good sign for oil demand.
Benchmark oil for March delivery rose 28 cents to finish at $97.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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