May 17, 2009 / 9:36 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. average gasoline price rises: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States increased nearly 25 cents in the past three weeks on a rise in crude oil prices, according to the Lundberg survey released on Sunday.

The average national price for self-serve, regular, unleaded gasoline was $2.3010 a gallon on May 15, up from $2.0549 a gallon on April 24, according to a nationwide survey of 5,000 gas stations.

Prices rose about 8.2 cents a week on average.

The price is below last year’s levels and far below the high of more than $4.11 a gallon set on July 11, 2008.

“Absent some supply threat, the retail price cannot catch up to last year,” survey editor Trilby Lundberg said in an interview.

Price rises at this time of year are normal, she said.

The onset of warmer spring and summer weather means that gasoline often contains more ethanol and different formulations for environmental safety, which can drive up the price, she said. Ethanol prices have been rising, she added.

Prices also rise as the industry anticipates increased summer demand and people take to the road for vacations.

The recession might keep prices low, however, as rising unemployment damps demand for gasoline because fewer people are commuting to work, Lundberg said.

Unemployment already is holding down prices, she said.

According to the latest survey results, the lowest price per gallon was in Phoenix at $1.99, while Chicago saw the highest at $2.63 per gallon.

Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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