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More pain at the pump as gas prices go up for 32 straight days

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

According to AAA, gas prices have risen for 32 days straight, meaning that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has increased more than 13 percent over that period to an average of $3.73 a gallon. Coming in the middle of winter, many households have been hit with overwhelming heating bills. With many in the U.S. bringing home smaller-than average paychecks - things are tough all over. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Higher gasoline prices are from a confluence of factors, from rising crude oil prices, to production cuts and refinery closings.

"Right now, things are tight worldwide," President of New York commodities trading firm Paramount Options Ray Carbone says. "Refineries going down, unanticipated maintenance and higher demand ... going into driving season."

The price of crude has jumped 10 percent in the last two months, which is two-thirds of the cost of one gallon of gas. Ironically, brighter economic times are behind the sudden inflation. While U.S. housing market is enjoying resurgence and there is a surge of new jobs available, the anticipation of higher oil demand is driving up prices. Fears have also ebbed that there would be a protracted slowdown in China's economy, which would have dampened global demand for oil.

OPEC is also believed to have cut production by about one million barrels a day in the last few months, partly in response to rising oil production elsewhere, notably the United States.

Several refineries are either preparing or have already shut down for maintenance before their annual switch to summer gasoline, which is formulated differently.

It's bad timing for many across the U.S. Most of the country's 160 million workers are taking home less pay each week since the payroll tax cuts expired last month.

Gas prices in Southern California have left some drivers paying over $5.00 per gallon. The average price of a gallon of gas in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area climbed for the 25th consecutive day to $4.29, over 50 cents higher than last month.

One gas station in downtown Los Angeles was offering regular unleaded at $5.19 on Monday, prompting at least one potential customer to exit his vehicle, snap of a photo of the station's prices - and then drive off in search of cheaper gas.

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