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Pump prices hold steady

Pump prices barely budged nationally and in California over the last week, the Energy Department said Monday.

But oil took a hit Monday because of the effects of a volcano in Iceland and evidence that oil producers were cheating on their own production quotas. There was also the fear that commodity investors would be spooked by fraud charges against Goldman Sachs & Co.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California fell six-tenths of a cent to $3.09, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of filling stations.

Nationally, the average price rose two-tenths of a penny to $2.86 a gallon.

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Oil futures trading was buffeted Monday by many winds, settling at $81.45 a barrel, down $1.79.

Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest Research in Chicago, said that widespread flight cancellations because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland were reducing oil demand by 1 million to 2 million barrels a day, damping already weak draws on plentiful supplies.

Some analysts also cited the Securities and Exchange Commission’s filing of a civil fraud suit Friday against Goldman Sachs and one of its employees, saying traders were worried about similar accusations spreading to other investment firms. But some analysts doubted that much would come from the case.

“Goldman Sachs owns the government already,” quipped Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst for Oppenheimer & Co.

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ron.white@latimes.com


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