U.S. retail gasoline price hits high for 2009

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 2, 2009 5:40pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The average price U.S. consumers paid to fill up at the gasoline pump hit a high for 2009, the Energy Department said on Monday.

The national price for regular unleaded gasoline increased 2 cents over the past week to $2.69 a gallon, up 29 cents from a year ago, the department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly survey of service stations.

The price for motor fuel is the highest since October 20, 2008, the EIA said.

Gasoline prices may be near their peak as most of the recent rise in crude oil costs has been passed on to consumers at the gasoline pump, according to EIA senior analyst Doug MacIntyre.

The jump in gasoline costs mirror the run-up in crude oil prices during October. The price of U.S. oil rose about $10 a barrel from the beginning of the month to the third week of October.

"Usually it takes about a week or two for the full (crude oil) price effect to get passed through" to the pump, MacIntyre said.

Every $1 rise in the cost for a barrel of crude adds about 2.4 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline, he said. As a result the pump price should rise about 24 cents due to the recent higher oil costs, and so far gasoline has increased almost 23 cents, according to MacIntyre.

"Without a further rise in crude oil prices, we're getting close to the peak on gasoline prices, if not there (already)," he said.

For a graphic showing weekly retail gasoline and diesel prices, click here

In its weekly price survey, the EIA found the West Coast had the most expensive gasoline at $2.91 a gallon, up 2.2 cents. By city, San Francisco had the highest price at $3.04, down a penny.

The Gulf Coast states had the lowest regional price at $2.56 a gallon, up 1.5 cents. Houston had the cheapest city pump price at $2.51, up 1.6 cents.

The agency also said gasoline prices were up 0.8 cent at $2.83 in Chicago; up 3.9 cents at $2.81 in Seattle; up 1.8 cents at $2.80 in Miami; up 4.8 cents at $2.70 in New York; up 2.1 cents at $2.66 in Cleveland; up 4.1 cents at $2.64 in Boston and up 2 cents at $2.57 in Denver.

Separately, the average price for diesel fuel increased 0.7 cents to $2.81 a gallon, the highest in a year but still down 28 cents from a year ago, the EIA said.

The central Atlantic region had the most expensive diesel at $2.94 a gallon, up 1.7 cents. The Gulf Coast region had the cheapest diesel fuel at $2.75, up 0.9 cent.

For a graphic showing average prices of gasoline by region, click here

(Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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