US economic news, power outages in Chile could raise gas prices


Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 7:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 7:40 a.m.

Hopeful economic news in the United States and power outages Chile's oil refineries following an earthquake in that country are the apparent factors that pushed gas prices higher at the pump over the past week. Price hikes averaged eight cents a gallon in Florida, according to AAA.

Facts

Average gas prices in Florida

Current – $2.761

Week ago – $2.688

Month ago – $2.734

Year ago – $1.955

Source: AAA

"This week is important to watch and will give us a good idea where crude prices and ultimately retail prices will head in the near future," said Jessica Brady, AAA public relations specialist. "Prices will likely continue their upward trend, but the state of Chile's oil refineries, that have shut down because of power outages, could lead to higher than expected prices."

Crude oil prices spiked to their highest levels in six weeks after the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product had made its biggest gain in six years. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the gain was evidence that the U.S. economy is beginning to recover from the severe recession.

Analysts said investors believe demand for gasoline and other oil products will rise as a result of the apparently improving economy, and that mindset also pushed prices higher.

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