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The Week Ahead: Like the weather, gas prices are heating up

By Tom Hudson, McClatchy Newspapers –

It has been a record breaking summer but not at the gas pump.  While July was the hottest month on record and a majority of the United States continues suffering near record drought conditions, drivers have been spared sky high gasoline prices predicted this spring.  But hold on.  Summer may be winding down but pump prices are heating up again.

In the past month, prices have shot up more than 7 percent.  Premium prices threaten to go over $4 a gallon in the next week in more than a dozen states.  (They’re already there In California and the Upper Midwest).

But hold on.  Americans are burning a lot less gasoline.  According to the official statistics demand is down 4.5 percent compared to last August.  That’s 17 million gallons per day less gasoline swallowed by our cars and trucks.  At $3.50 per gallon, that leaves almost $60 million per day in the pockets of Americans.

It is no surprise our thirst for gasoline would be less given the tepid state of the economy.  However, oil prices are rising with production dropping in the North Sea and a storm sweeping through Mexican offshore oil installations raise concerns about supply.  Meantime, global central banks in the U.S., Europe and China are expected to do what whatever it takes to stimulate their economies.   That help may come at the price of global energy prices even as Americans fill-up less.

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