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WASHINGTON -- U.S. fuel prices inched higher for the second consecutive week as the average cost for a gallon rose 0.6 cents to $1.40, the Energy Department said.
The Midwest, where the average cost for a gallon of gas jumped to $1.40, led the nationwide increase. Still, the rise comes as prices in the region have dropped 23.5 cents since the same time a year ago, reflecting a similar decline across the country.
The latest pump price in the United States, based on a weekly survey of more than 800 service stations by the department's Energy Information Administration (EIA), is down 12.8 cents from a year ago.
Fuel prices tend to fall after the busy Labor Day travel weekend, but a glut of gasoline has helped push prices further below the 2001 holiday season. The market remains on edge that an attack on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could squeeze crude oil imports to the U.S., sending gasoline prices higher, the report said.
Motorists on the West Coast continued to pay the most at the pump even though prices eased 0.7 cents to average $1.52 per gallon. The Lower Atlantic region remained the cheapest as prices rose 0.8 cents to an average $1.31.
Houston was far-and-away the cheapest place for gasoline prices at $1.33, although it posted the only increase among the six major cities highlighted by the EIA, up 1.9 cents from the prior week. The survey also showed that pump prices in Denver dipped 0.7 cents to $1.40, and Chicago eased 4.6 cents to $1.47.
San Francisco drivers continued to pay the most to fuel-up as the cost for a gallon of gas was $1.64, down 0.8 cents. Prices in the six cities have fallen between 0.2 cents in New York City and 3.3 cents in Chicago from a year ago.
The national price for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline, which is sold at about one-third of the gas stations in cities and smoggier areas, fell 0.6 cents to $1.47.
U.S. truckers continued to pay more in the latest week as the price for a gallon of diesel rose 1.8 cents to $1.41, its fifth straight weekly increase. Prices, which rose across all major regions except California, are down an estimated 11.3 cents from a year ago.
Truckers in the Lower Atlantic paid the least for diesel at $1.36, up 1.8 cents. The West coast paid the most as prices rose 0.9 cents to $1.56.