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    Average Gas Price Reaches $3.26

    Ethanol price hike, increasing demand are attributed to the 7 cent increase.

    NEW YORK -- The average price of a gallon of regular gas in the U.S. rose seven cents during the past two weeks to $3.26, Bloomberg News reported, citing oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg's survey of 7,000 gas retailers nationwide.

    "Gasoline prices moved up 7 cents while crude oil prices lost about 8 cents per gallon equivalent during the same period," Lundberg told Bloomberg News. "They moved in the opposite direction because ethanol prices were spiking, our spring demand is awakening and because refiners and retailers each took a little better profit margin."

    Rising gas prices are taking a toll on consumers, and consumer confidence sank to a 16-year low this month as Americans braced for higher inflation, with the economy teetering on the brink of a recession, the report stated.

    "This new price beats the previous inflation-adjusted high by about 2.5 cents," Lundberg said. "Back in May of 2007, the price was just over $3.18, but because of inflation it now looks like $3.24."

    Rising prices caused gas demand to fall 1.8 percent from a year ago, to 9.07 million barrels a day, Bloomberg News reported, citing a U.S. Energy Department report on March 19.

    The highest average price was $3.66 a gallon in San Francisco, while the lowest was in Newark, at $3.03 a gallon, the report stated.

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