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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Gas prices recently did something they haven't done in months -- they started to tick up slightly.
According to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report, a regular gallon of gas stands at $3.38 today, July 9. This is up notably from a week ago when the same gallon cost motorists $3.32 -- a difference of 6 cents. Before last Tuesday, July 3, gasoline prices had declined 75 out of the previous 77 days, according to an AAA spokesman.
"Gas prices have only increased by a little over a cent during these three days, but this is significant because it could mean the long-standing trend of consistently declining gas prices has come to an end," said Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA, told MarketWatch on July 5.
Several reports have pointed to an increase in crude oil prices as a factor behind the rising prices at the pump. Crude traded below $80 a barrel as recently as last week only to climb above $87 on July 5. An increase in gas prices is also a sign of an improving economy, according to reports.
"Oil seems to be rising primarily on hopes that European leaders have begun to solve debt issues, which would have a positive effect on the global economy and fuel demand," Green said. "Other issues that have contributed to the run up include increased tensions with Iran following recent missile exercises, the implementation of [European Union] sanctions and a strike in Norway that is limiting production."
But there have been no cries of $5-per-gallon prices -- like were heard in April -- yet. Most industry sources believe the prices will remain relatively steady.
"Higher crude prices will inevitably make it more expensive to purchase gasoline, but it remains to be seen whether the recent crude spike can sustain itself," he said. "Gas prices are likely to remain steadily high for the near term, but a lot will depend on the state of the economy going forward."