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    Gas Holds Stable

    Strong Supplies keep prices in toe

    LOS ANGELES -- Nationwide gas prices increased less than a penny as plentiful supplies and falling crude costs tempered threats of war in the Persian Gulf.

    With the exception of California, which experienced a sharp jolt at the pump, retail gasoline prices held stable, with the average price, covering all grades and taxes, about $1.49 per gallon according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide.

    "Prices have been on the rise recently on the West Coast, but those rising prices were offset by falling prices in the Gulf and Midwest regions," Trilby Lundberg said. In California, a gallon of gasoline averaged $1.56, an 8-cent increase in just two weeks, Lundberg reported.

    The Automotive Club of Southern California attributed the price hike to a variety of factors, including jitters over a possible war with Iraq and fears of supply interruption following the Nov. 3 Alaskan earthquake, the Associated Press reported.

    But Lundberg said the long-term forecast calls for optimism. "At this time, wholesale prices are falling in all parts of the country, suggesting that retail prices will soon grind to a halt, including California," she said.

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