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Retail Gasoline at U.S. Pumps Rises on Crude Above $95 a Barrel

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Retail gasoline in the U.S. surpassed year-ago levels for a third week as crude futures traded above $95 for the first time in three months.

The national average price for regular gasoline gained 3.2 cents to $3.776 a gallon from a week earlier, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report posted on the agency’s website yesterday. That price was up 4.1 percent from $3.627 a year earlier. The price of diesel fuel at the pump rose to $4.089 a gallon, up 6.3 cents.

U.S. retail gasoline has climbed for eight consecutive weeks, advancing 42 cents a gallon since July 2, as crude prices have risen more than $18 a barrel from this year’s low. Futures rose above $95 a barrel on Aug. 16 for the first time since May 11 and have remained above that threshold on speculation that faster economic growth will boost demand.

“Crude oil prices are driving most of this upward move,” David Hackett, the president of Stillwater Associates in Irvine, California, an independent fuel consultant, said by telephone yesterday. “We probably won’t see any relief for a few weeks until refiners shift to winter-time gasoline production. The rally in crude prices is likely to continue.”

Gasoline rose in all regions of the U.S., with the Rocky Mountain area posting the sharpest increase after rising 4 cents to $3.575 a gallon, the energy agency’s report showed.

“The fact that all areas are moving in the same direction is another indicator that this is being driven by crude prices and not by local market conditions,” Hackett said.

Gasoline Futures

Oil for October delivery fell 68 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $95.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, up from this year’s low of $77.28 on June 28. Nymex gasoline futures rose 7.68 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $3.1548 a gallon yesterday.

Motor-gasoline inventories fell by 962,000 barrels, or 0.5 percent, to 202.7 million in the week ended Aug. 17, the Energy Department said Aug. 22. They probably fell another 1.4 million barrels in the seven days ended Aug. 24, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg before an Energy Department report tomorrow.

Crude-oil supplies slipped 5.41 million barrels, or 1.5 percent, to 360.7 million in the week ended Aug. 17, the agency said. They probably fell another 2 million barrels, the Bloomberg survey showed.

The Energy Department conducts a telephone survey of about 800 retail gasoline outlets across the U.S. each Monday to post weekly gasoline prices as of 8 a.m. local time that day.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christine Harvey in New York at charvey32@bloomberg.net; Lynn Doan in San Francisco at ldoan6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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