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Government Boosts Forecast for Gas Prices

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The government is boosting its forecast for gasoline prices this year following an 11% increase since the middle of December.

Pump prices should average $3.55 a gallon in 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. That's up 11 cents from EIA's forecast in January and would be the second-highest annual average ever, after last year's $3.63 a gallon.

The national average was $3.61 on Monday, the EIA says. It was $3.25 on Dec. 17.

The EIA primarily pins the increase on higher oil prices. Brent crude, the benchmark for many international varieties of oil imported to the U.S., rose $10 a barrel from mid-December to early February. That equates to about 24 cents per gallon of gas, the EIA says.  (AP)

From AAA:

– The conversion to summer-blend gasoline, nationwide refinery issues, and a rise in crude oil prices have sent Nevada gas prices to new highs, according to the latest AAA Nevada monthly gas survey.

The average price in Nevada for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.54 a gallon, an increase of 38 cents from the last AAA gas price release of January 8, 2012. Last month the average price in Nevada was $3.16 a gallon.  

The highest gas price of the Nevada metro areas tracked by AAA is in Sparks. The average price in Sparks is $3.74 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. Reno takes the second prize at $3.72.  North Las Vegas have the Silver State's lowest pump price found in metro areas tracked by AAA. Drivers in North Las Vegas are paying an average price of $3.43. The highest price of gasoline in the nation's metro areas is in Hilo, Hawaii, at $4.26 per gallon.                                                    

Prices have increased in every state over the last week with California and the Mountain States leading the way with the most significant price jumps: Nevada, 18 cents; Colorado, 15 cents; Arizona, 14 cents, California, 13 cents; and Utah, 12 cents. Motorists in California saw prices move over the $4.00 mark last Friday and California's current average price, $4.06, is the highest in the contiguous 48 states. Hawaii at $4.24 reports the highest price in the country. Motorists in Wyoming enjoy the lowest average price in the country at $3.07.

"Dramatic increases like those experienced since mid-January typically result from escalating geopolitical tensions or extreme weather disturbances," said Cynthia Harris, AAA Nevada spokesperson. "The recent increases can be attributed to more expensive crude oil and, more notably, to regional refinery issues plus the approaching switchover to summer-blend gasoline."

At the close of formal trading on Monday, on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled at $93.19 per barrel, up 10 cents on the day. This is the highest settlement price since September 18, but still well below the 2012 high of $109.77 on Feb. 24.

Only 12 states and Washington, D.C. currently have an average pump price that is more expensive than one year ago. Not coincidentally, these are also the states where gasoline supplies and distribution were most heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy this fall. Tight supplies in the Northeast linger and continue to buoy prices in the region.

Today's national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.60. This price is seven cents more expensive than one week ago, 28 cents more than one month ago and eight cents more than the average price one year ago. Today's price is the highest on record for this calendar day. The national average has increased for 25 consecutive days, which is the longest streak since February and March 2012.

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