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    GAS PRICE WATCH: Fuel Prices Rise, But ...

    Retail gas prices are still about 17 cents lower than this time last year.

    The price of gasoline climbed last week to an average of about $2.19 a gallon nationwide -- the first rise in six weeks, the Associated Press reported.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration said late Monday that motorists last week paid $2.191 a gallon on average for regular grade gasoline, up from $2.165 the prior week. Retail gas prices are still about 17 cents lower than they were this time last year.

    Prices increased the most last week in the Midwest, rising by nearly 6 cents to an average of $2.174 a gallon. The most expensive gasoline, however, was still on the West Coast, where a gallon cost $2.524, up from $2.506 the previous week.

    Gasoline prices slipped in New England and the Central Atlantic region, but the cheapest gasoline remained on the Gulf Coast, where a gallon of regular rose to $2.090 from $2.062 the previous week, according to the AP report.

    The price of crude oil, which makes up about half the cost of a gallon of gas, is down about $19 since peaking above $78 a barrel in July and driving gasoline prices above $3 a gallon last summer. Crude is up about $9, though, after falling briefly below $50 a barrel in mid-January.

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