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    Gasoline Prices Jump

    Increases persist for second straight week.

    WASHINGTON -- Consumers were hit with lofty gasoline price increases for a second straight week, as the cost for motor fuel jumped 6.5 cents over the last week to $1.288 a gallon, according to the Energy Department.

    The pump price has increased 14.4 cents a gallon in the last two weeks due to higher crude oil costs, but fuel prices were still down 12 cents a gallon from year-ago levels, the report said.

    The national average price for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline (RFG), sold at about one-third of the stations in cities and smoggier areas, was up 6.2 cents to $1.341 a gallon. RFG has risen an average 14.5 cents a gallon in the last two weeks, according to a survey of more than 800 convenience stores by the department's Energy Information Administration.

    In addition to higher crude oil costs, gasoline prices are up due to stronger motor fuel demand as the United States enters the busy spring driving season. The most expensive regular unleaded gasoline was found on the West Coast, where the average price was up 4.6 cents a gallon to $1.417, the EIA said.

    Motorists in the lower Atlantic states again had the cheapest fuel, with the average price in that region up 7.6 cents to $1.216 a gallon.

    The nationwide price for diesel fuel also rose, increasing 3.5 cents to $1.251 a gallon, down 14 cents from a year ago but still the highest level since last November.

    West Coast truckers paid the most for diesel fuel at $1.36 a gallon, up 3.3 cents. The Gulf Coast states had the cheapest diesel at $1.218 a gallon, up 3.2 cents

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