Retail gasoline prices in the U.S. climbed for the third time in four weeks, boosted by the crisis in Iraq that sent oil futures surging.
The pump price averaged $3.686 a gallon today, up 1.2 cents from a week earlier, data posted on the Energy Information Administration’s website show. Oil, which accounts for two-thirds of the retail price of gasoline, gained $2.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the same period and $4.88 in the past month.
The jump in crude, driven by concern that tension in Iraq will disrupt supplies, threatens to further raise gasoline prices at a time when they normally drop.
“We could see a spike somewhere close to 10 cents a gallon,” Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago, said by telephone today. “If you look longer-term, this is very much a bullish story.”
Iraq’s sectarian violence showed no sign of abating, with Sunni Muslim militants and government forces battling to control Tal Afar. The country produced 3.3 million barrels a day of crude last month, trailing only Saudi Arabia among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Pump prices are 6 cents above year-earlier levels, EIA data show. Should gasoline remain above $3.652 a gallon next week, it’ll surpass 2011 levels and hit the highest seasonal price since 2008.