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    Ike Sends Average Gas Price Sky-High

    Meanwhile, crude oil drops to six month low.

    WASHINGTON -- Hurricane Ike continues to send shockwaves across the nation as the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Monday the average U.S. retail price for gasoline climbed 19 cents in the last week.

    Ike’s devastating impact on the Gulf region came on the heels of Hurricane Gustav. The combination of the two sent the national average price for regular, self-service gasoline to $3.84 in the week ending on Monday, which up from $3.65 the previous week, the EIA reported. Before the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, gasoline prices had been falling steadily for nine weeks.

    Gasoline was most expensive in the lower Atlantic region at $3.96, up 34 cents, while New England had the lowest regional price at $3.66 a gallon, up 4.5 cents.

    While gas prices increased in every region of the country expect the Rocky Mountains, crude oil prices closed below $100 on Monday, marking the first time oil fell below $100 since March.

    Analysts say despite Ike’s wrath, the Gulf was spared from serious refinery damage, which coupled with oil trading at a six month low, will save the country from extended high gasoline prices.

    "It looks like we've dodged another bullet," Peter Beutel, president of energy consultant Cameron Hanover Inc. in New Canaan, Conn., told Bloomberg News. "The refineries in the Houston area seem to have come out of the storm remarkably intact."

    For many, storm patterns are but one spoke in an otherwise haphazard wheel turning the economy.

    "Growing fears about the economy are trumping any fears about the damage caused by Hurricane Ike," John Kilduff, senior vice president of risk management at MF Global Inc. in New York, told Bloomberg News. "The broader issue is the weakness of the financial system. Given the Lehman and WaMu watch, cash looks better than any speculative investment."

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