Two-week gasoline price rise second biggest ever

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 7, 2011 5:09pm EST

A gas nozzle is used to pump petrol at a station in New York February 22, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A gas nozzle is used to pump petrol at a station in New York February 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline prices soared another 13.7 cents over the last week to a national average of $3.52 a gallon, rising 33.1 cents during the last two weeks, the Energy Department said on Monday.

It was the second biggest jump in pump prices during a two-week period ever recorded by the government. The record was 45.7 cents for the period ending September 5, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

The price of gasoline is up 77 cents from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of service stations.

Diesel fuel prices had a bigger jump, rising 15.5 cents in the last week to $3.87 a gallon. That's up 30 cents during the last two weeks and 97 cents higher from a year ago.

The price of U.S. crude settled at $105.44 a barrel on Monday at the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest since September 2008.

Some economists warn gasoline could soon hit $4 a gallon, a level expected to scare consumers to cut back on driving and spending, which could slow the economic recovery.

In the agency's new weekly fuel survey, gasoline prices were the most expensive on the West Coast at $3.77 a gallon, up 14.4 cents. Gasoline was cheapest in the Rocky Mountain states at $3.30, up 11.6 cents.

By city, drivers paid the most for gasoline in San Francisco at $3.92, up 16.2 cents. The best deal at the pump was in Denver at $3.30, up 12.6 cents.

The EIA also reported gasoline prices were up 11.5 cents in Chicago at $3.68, up 16.5 cents in Miami at $3.65, up 12.1 cents in Seattle at $3.64, up 14.5 cents in New York City at $3.55, up 15.7 cents in Boston at $3.46 and up 16.6 cents in Houston at $3.38 a gallon.

Some U.S. lawmakers urged the Obama administration to tap the nation's emergency oil stockpile to help lower gasoline prices. The White House said that option is on the table.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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