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    Gas Prices Reach New Holiday Record

    One analyst predicts drivers will see average fuel prices hit $3.99 per gallon by the spring.

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Next week, families across the United States will be hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday and they will be paying more to do so than they did a year ago.

    According to GasBuddy.com, the average price for regular gasoline today is $3.39 per gallon. That is 51 cents more than last year when the average price was only $2.88 per gallon.

    Even in New Mexico, which has the lowest gas prices in the country at $3.04 per gallon, drivers are still paying 16 cents more per gallon to fill up their tanks vs. this time last year. Hawaii has the highest gas prices at $4.18 per gallon.

    Adjusting for inflation, this year's average price per gallon is about 1 cent higher than 2007's previous holiday high of $3.08. The new holiday record comes at time when gas prices have been on the decline -- a 15-percent decline from June's $3.98 peak, according to USA Today.

    The good news is most industry watchers are predicting further declines. "More drops are coming -- maybe down to $3.25 -- but as we know, prices go down slower than they go up,'' GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan told the news outlet.

    Tom Kloza, chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, said some regions could see prices as low as $2.99 per gallon. However, any price decrease will probably be fleeting. A continued uptick in the economy, seasonal demand and higher overseas consumption could push prices to 2011 peaks by next spring, the newspaper reported.

    "By March or April, you could see Apocalypsfe II -- $3.99 a gallon. Oil prices are usually on a roller coaster, and by then, they'll be on the up cycle," Kloza said.

    To that end, oil prices topped $103 a barrel Thursday in Asia, extending a 37 percent rally during the last six weeks. Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 67 cents at $103.26 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $3.22 to settle at $102.59 in New York on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

    Oil has climbed steadily from $75 on Oct. 4 amid signs the U.S. economy is growing slowly, rather than slipping into a recession as some analysts feared during the summer. Oil prices jumped Wednesday after Canadian pipeline company Enbridge announced it would ship crude away from a key delivery point in Cushing, Okla. The company bought a 50-percent stake in the Seaway pipeline from ConocoPhillips and plans to use it to transport oil from Cushing to refineries along the Gulf Coast, where much of it will be shipped overseas because of rising demand from Latin America, the AP reported.

    J.P. Morgan raised its 2012 forecast for the average price of crude to $110 from $97.50.


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