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Gas prices are rising rapidly in some areas of the country

Wall Street traders are bidding up the price of oil, hoping for an end to the pandemic

Photo (c) Maskot - Getty Images
It’s a contradiction. Gasoline demand is actually going down because of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Yet the price of gasoline is rapidly snapping back to pre-pandemic levels.

The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular is $2.37 a gallon, seven cents higher than last Friday. It’s now only 20 cents a gallon less than at this time in 2020.

The average price of premium gas is $2.95 a gallon, seven cents more than last week. The average price of diesel fuel is $2.61 a gallon, three cents higher than a week ago.

In the background, Wall Street traders have bid up the price of oil beyond $50 a barrel. While it’s true the Saudis have agreed to cut production, the big story is the potential end to the pandemic. The thinking is, once enough people are inoculated things will start getting back to normal and demand will rise.

So far, that bet hasn’t panned out. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports demand last week fell to its lowest level since May.

“Gas prices are rising as supply tightens and crude oil gets more expensive. Decreasing demand is outweighed by these other factors at the moment,” said Jeanette Casselano McGee, a AAA spokesperson. “Last week crude oil pushed to the highest price since before the pandemic. If crude prices remain high, Americans can expect to pay more at the pump this month.” 

Some states saw bigger increases than others. Texas saw its statewide average jump 12 cents a gallon in the last week. The average price in Missouri is up 10 cents a gallon. As of this week, no state has an average price below $2 a gallon.

The states with the most expensive gas

These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

  • California ($3.31)

  • Hawaii ($3.30)

  • Washington ($2.79)

  • Nevada ($2.68)

  • Oregon ($2.66)

  • Pennsylvania ($2.66)

  • Alaska ($2.57)

  • Illinois ($2.51)

  • New Jersey ($2.51)

  • New York ($2.44)

The states with the cheapest regular gas

The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

  • Mississippi ($2.05)

  • Louisiana ($2.08)

  • Missouri ($2.09)

  • Oklahoma ($2.09)

  • Texas ($2.10)

  • Arkansas ($2.12)

  • Alabama ($2.14)

  • South Carolina ($2.14)

  • Kansas ($2.16)

  • Tennessee ($2.18)

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