Retail gasoline price hits record: AAA

Gas prices are displayed at a gas station in Hollywood, California March 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. gasoline prices hit a record on Tuesday and were expected to keep climbing into summer, travel group AAA said, adding strain on consumers already feeling the pinch of an economic slowdown.

The White House said it was concerned about the effect of surging energy costs on consumers and small businesses, but said it would be wrong to give “false hope” about the ability to bring prices lower quickly.

Average regular gasoline prices touched an all-time high of $3.227 per gallon, up 27 cents in a month and surpassing the previous peak hit in May 2007, AAA said in its daily survey of more than 85,000 self-serve filling stations.

The travel group said it expected pump prices to rise further in the coming months, breaking above $4 a gallon in some areas by summer, when road travel typically peaks.

The rise in pump prices comes as crude oil vaults to new peaks near $110 per barrel amid an increase in speculative investing in commodities and concerns that world energy consumption will outpace new supply.

President George W. Bush has urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost crude oil production to ease record energy prices and help avert an economic slowdown, but the group has shrugged off calls for more supply.

Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Walter Bagley