Why gasoline prices are headed even higher

20120222121838gasBy Myra P. Saefong

Gasoline prices at the pump have climbed every day for the past 21 days — and they’re not going to let up anytime soon.

On Thursday, the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.555, making it the most expensive average ever for that day and the highest level since Oct. 26 of last year, according to AAA. See AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The price has risen 26.3 cents, or about 8%, this year, steeper than the 6.2% increase for the same period in 2012 and 1.6% rise for the same period in 2011, according to the motorist and leisure travel group.

“Gas prices increased at a blistering pace over the previous couple of weeks,” said Michael Green, AAA spokesman, adding that the jump of 17.4 cents between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 marked the largest weekly price spike in nearly two years. Read more about the fast rate of increase for gasoline in The Tell blog.

And as the gasoline market set all sorts of milestones, analysts offered more reasons why prices are headed even higher over the next few months.

“This is a very early rise,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. “January has tended to be a quiet month through the years. The rally really began in earnest around Jan. 15.”

Prices saw an “off-season” bottom on Dec. 20 when they averaged $3.219 a gallon, he said, so since that bottom, they’ve rebounded by about 33 cents — “with more increases to come.”

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