WASHINGTON The average price U.S. drivers paid for gasoline soared 19.4 cents in the latest week to $3.38 a gallon, the biggest jump in pump prices since Hurricane Katrina disrupted petroleum supplies in September 2005, the Energy Department said on Monday.
Gasoline prices rose a record 46 cents during the week Hurricane Katrina devastated offshore drilling platforms and Gulf Coast oil refineries.
Gasoline prices are up 68 cents from a year ago because of skyrocketing crude oil costs, as unrest in Libya sent U.S. oil trading above $100 a barrel.
The price of crude, which accounts for more than half the cost of making gasoline, rose by more than $8 a barrel last week. Every $1 increase in a barrel of oil is equal to a 2.4-cent rise in a gallon of gasoline.
Pump prices over the last week increased by 23 cents in Houston to $3.22, 16 cents in New York City to $3.40, 25 cents in Miami to $3.48, 24 cents in Chicago to $3.56 and 18 cents in San Francisco to $3.75.
Diesel fuel prices, which affect mostly truckers hauling goods, jumped 14.3 cents to $3.72 a gallon, up 86 cents from a year ago, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of service stations.
Some fear economists rising fuel prices could slow the economic recovery if consumers cut back on their spending because of higher gasoline costs and businesses tack on fuel surcharges.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)