Gas prices on the rise again ahead of holiday

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**FILE**A gasoline station attendant pumps gas in this July 13, 2006 file photo in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file)

(NEXSTAR) — Gas prices in the U.S. are on the rise yet again.

The U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline rose 4 cents from last week to $3.12 per gallon on Friday, according to AAA.

The national average is now almost 8 cents higher than a month ago and 95 cents higher than this time last year.

AAA expects a record-breaking 43.6 million Americans to take road trips over the Fourth of July weekend, a popular travel holiday.

It’s not unusual for gas prices to increase ahead of a holiday, especially during the peak summer driving season, but this year, prices are expected to rise even higher.

“Road trippers will pay the most to fill up for the holiday since 2014,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson.

With the U.S. economy rapidly recovering from the 15-month-long coronavirus pandemic, demand for fuel is rising and pushing prices to levels not seen since 2014. And hurricane season always carries the prospect of higher prices if a storm impacts oil drilling and refining on the Gulf Coast.

On Friday, Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season as it battered the eastern Caribbean.

“Motorists should prepare to dig deeper for the second half of the summer, unfortunately,” GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan said.

In June, the Energy Information Administration predicted gasoline would average $2.92 a gallon for the April-September summer driving season, up from $2.07 a gallon for the same period last year. For the full year, the EIA estimates regular gasoline will average $2.77 a gallon and U.S. households will spend $570 more on fuel than they did a year ago.

For consumers, higher gasoline prices are one element of an inflationary mix they’ve encountered as the economy recovers from the pandemic. Rising prices for commodities and materials have also boosted prices for such items as lumber, diapers, and meat and poultry.

The Federal Reserve is expecting many of these increases to be temporary. In an appearance before a House subcommittee last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell cited “the pass-through of past increases in oil prices to consumer energy prices” as one factor behind the increase in inflation.

While prices for some commodities have reversed direction recently, oil has held its gains for the most part. On Thursday, West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.76 to $75.23 per barrel due to an anticipated decision by OPEC and its allies — known as OPEC+ — that could increase crude production in August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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