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Gas prices rise for 50th straight day

June 17, 2009 8:29:25 AM PDT
Retail gas prices climbed for the 50th straight day Wednesday, the longest streak in records dating to 1996, even as benchmark crude fell for the fourth day in a row. Historically, filling station prices tend to rise during the summer as millions of vacationing Americans pour onto the highways. A surge in crude prices during the past few months and less production from the refiners that make gasoline has added even more pressure on prices.

Pump prices added a half cent overnight to a new national average of $2.679 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular gas has jumped nearly 37 cents in a month. That's still cheaper than a gallon of gas three years ago at this point in June.

On Wednesday, crude oil tumbled below $70 a barrel after a key government report said U.S. gasoline supplies grew more than expected last week.

Benchmark crude for July delivery fell $1 to $69.47 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent prices fell 98 cents to $69.26 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

The Energy Information Administration report said gasoline reserves grew last week by 3.4 million barrels, or 1.7 percent, to 205 million barrels. Analysts expected stockpiles of the motor fuel to rise by 650,000 barrels.

Demand for gasoline was up 1.1 percent from last year, averaging nearly 9.3 million barrels a day over the four weeks ended June 12.

Crude inventories fell last week by 3.9 million barrels, or 1.1 percent, to 357.7 million barrels, the report said.

Oil prices this week have come off eight-month highs near $73 a barrel amid some signs that the U.S. economy, while past the worst of a severe recession, is still weak. Crude prices have dropped with equities markets this week, and they continued to fall Wednesday though the dollar was week.

Because barrels are priced in U.S. currency, oil tends to rise when the dollar falls.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for July delivery tumbled 6.37 cents to $2.0074 a gallon and heating oil dropped 1.3 cents to $1.812. Natural gas for July delivery added 2.1 cents to $4.150 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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Associated Press writers Ernest Scheyder in New York, Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary and Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.


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