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    Alaska Pumps First to Average $4 a Gallon

    While consumer demand declines, gas prices continue to rise.

    LOS ANGELES -- In what is expected to be an unfortunate trend, Alaska became the first state in the U.S. to the hit the feared $4 dollar per gallon mark for gasoline yesterday, a reality more states will face as the summer season approaches.

    "It wasn't totally unexpected," Geoff Sundstrom, spokesman for the travel and auto group AAA, which issues a daily gasoline price report, told Reuters. "Oil prices recently brushed against $127 per barrel so certainly, $4 gasoline could be in the cards for other states as well this summer."

    According to a report released by AAA, Alaskans using self-service regular gasoline paid $4.006 per gallon, which is upwards of $60 per fill-up for a 15-gallon tank. In slight contrast, the report stated that the U.S. average for gasoline was $3.758 per gallon, a record compared to last year's $2.946 a gallon.

    As motorists hem and haw, analysts agree that while most states will likely hit the $4 dollar mark, the Memorial Day weekend will dictate pricing curves. "Memorial Day weekend is a little to the gasoline industry what Christmas is to retailers," Sundstrom told Reuters. "It's one of the highest demand weekends for fuel and is a barometer for what can be expected in summer driving season demand."

    This week Connecticut, California, New York and Illinois were each less than a penny away from reaching the $4 threshold. According to MasterCard, gasoline demand as fallen by 1 percent in 2008. The Petroleum Marketers Association of America said this marks the first decline since 1991.

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