U.S. gasoline surges nearly 25 cents/gallon in past 2 weeks

Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:07pm EST

* U.S. retail gasoline averages $3.5918/gallon

* Rise comes in response to increases from wholesalers

* Brent crude oil hit nine-month high last week

NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The average price in the United States for a gallon of regular gasoline rose nearly 25 cents in the past two weeks, up steadily since December as refineries passed along their costs, a widely followed survey released on Sunday showed.

Gasoline prices averaged $3.5918 per gallon on Feb. 8, up 24.75 cents from Jan. 25, said Trilby Lundberg, editor of the Lundberg Survey.

"The amount of change is very big," Lundberg said.

"The wholesale price increases accelerated in the past two weeks and that's why we have the big rise."

The retail price of regular gasoline in the United States has risen for seven weeks straight, Lundberg said.

The current average price is up 8.17 cents from a year earlier, she said.

Prices had declined for 11 weeks between Oct. 5, when gasoline touched near $3.84 per gallon, and Dec. 21, when they started to rise again.

"Now that the wholesale price hikes have accelerated, the need for retailers to raise prices on the street is becoming acute," Lundberg said.

Brent crude oil futures hit a nine-month high above $119 a barrel on Friday, supported by data that showed strong growth in Chinese oil imports.

Brent's premium to U.S. oil futures has increased on expectations that Midwest crude stockpiles will remain elevated as constraints on the Seaway pipeline continue to limit shippers' ability to send crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Among the cities surveyed, Los Angeles drivers paid the most at $4.10 per gallon, and filling the gas tank cost the least in Billings, Montana, at $3.05 per gallon. (Reporting by Marcy Nicholson; Editing by Dale Hudson)