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Gasoline prices rise slightly in California and most of U.S.

Pump prices have risen slightly in California and most of the nation, the Energy Department said Monday, and crude oil futures regained some of the ground they lost last week as the U.S. dollar lost value relative to other major world currencies.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California climbed 2.1 cents to $3.139, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of filling stations. The U.S. average rose seven-tenths of a penny to $2.905 a gallon.

Prices rose everywhere except the Midwest and New England regions. The California average retail gasoline price is 72 cents higher than it was a year earlier; the U.S. average is 66 cents higher.

Crude oil rebounded Monday, based, in part, on a $955-billion rescue package agreed to by the European Commission, European governments and the International Monetary Fund. The huge financial package is an effort to blunt a growing sovereign debt emergency that began in Greece but is now threatening other weakened economies.

Crude oil futures for June delivery settled at $76.80 a barrel, up $1.69, after trading as high as $78.51 a barrel.

Analysts said that oil markets also were reacting to the announcement that large-scale maintenance on the British North Sea Brent oil field would reduce production next month by about one-third.

Oil reached an intraday high for the year of $87.15 on May 3, but it tumbled later in the week after the plunge in the stock market. On Friday, it settled at its lowest level since mid-February.

And despite BP’s continuing failure to stanch a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the disaster was having little effect on commodities markets. The crisis began after an explosion and fire on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon on April 20 killed 11 workers and oil began leaking up from a crippled well at the rate of at least 200,000 gallons a day.

“There have been no widespread petroleum facility shutdowns in the gulf. U.S. oil imports into the region have not been impacted, so the effect of the spill on the markets has been negligible so far,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago.

ron.white@latimes.com


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