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Gasoline and diesel prices continue rising

Retail gasoline and diesel prices continued to rise in California and across much of the nation over the last week.

Analysts are concerned that rising energy costs would be bad for the economy because more expensive gasoline affects how much Americans have left over to spend on other products, and higher diesel prices could boost the price of other items that are produced or transported using diesel.

In California, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline climbed 1.8 cents to $4.376, an increase of 42.2 cents a gallon since the same time last year. Nationally, the average rose 3.6 cents to $3.829 a gallon, up 26.2 cents from a year earlier.

A fourth state, Illinois, has been initiated into the $4-a-gallon club, according to a fuel-price survey by AAA. Regular gasoline averaged $4.035 a gallon in Illinois, the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Monday. The average price of regular gas had already been $4 or more a gallon in California, Alaska and Hawaii.

Naveen Agarwal, chief executive of Pricelock Marketplace in Redwood City, Calif., said he thought gasoline prices might surge to $4.50 a gallon nationally. But, he added, “they won’t remain that high for very long.”

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Pricelock allows energy buyers to save money by locking in purchases at a certain price before they rise again.

The average cost of a gallon of diesel in California rose 2.9 cents to $4.483, which was 31.3 cents higher than a year earlier. Nationally, the average also rose by 2.9 cents to $4.123 a gallon, which was 21.5 cents higher than a year earlier.

Some observers said diesel could ultimately cause more pain for consumers than gasoline. Nicole Mitchell, president of M7 Marketing Inc. in Omaha, a bulk freight logistics company, said diesel increases are multiplied several times along typical supply chains.

“For a loaf of bread,” Mitchell said, “there’s the cost of growing, harvesting, transporting to a mill, sending flour to a baker, then to store shelves. There could be a fuel surcharge at every step, and that gets passed on to consumers.”

In New York futures trading, oil fell $1.06 to $106.34 a barrel. In London, European benchmark crude declined 64 cents to $125.34.

ron.white@latimes.com


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