And the pain deepens: Gas up 7.7 cents

Times Staff Writer

Retail gasoline prices surged to new highs in California and nationally over the last week, the Energy Department said Monday.

Prices are increasing even though supplies are plentiful.

In California, the Energy Department’s weekly survey of service stations showed, the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular climbed 7.7 cents to $3.685 -- the biggest increase and the highest average in the country -- after hovering around the $3.60 mark for the previous three weeks. The state’s latest average was 43.3 cents higher than the same week in 2007.

Nationally, the average jumped another 4.2 cents to $3.332, which was 53 cents higher than a year earlier. The jump in pump prices largely reflects strong crude prices.


The increases come even as drivers such as Tony Galvan of Goleta are cutting consumption. Galvan, a computer system administrator, and his wife, Joan, have parked a vintage 1961 Jaguar and dumped a thirsty Chevy Trailblazer in favor of their motorcycles and a gas-sipping sport wagon.

Galvan, 60, said he had cut his gasoline consumption from 10 gallons a week to around 4 gallons by commuting on his bike.

Investors seeking a hedge against the weak U.S. dollar and the poor performance of stocks were driving oil and gasoline prices, experts said. Supply and demand, they said, had nothing to do with it.

“Commodities like oil are the only game in town,” said Fadel Gheit, an analyst for Oppenheimer & Co. Said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service: “T.S. Eliot talked about April being the cruelest month. I’m beginning to think he was talking about gasoline.”