Tooling around in your car on a Sunday afternoon continues to get more expensive, with gas prices crossing the $3.50 per gallon mark, a fresh 7.5-year high.
A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline hit a nationwide average of $3.51 on Wednesday after going up every day since Jan. 13, AAA said. The cost of that same gallon was $3.28 at the start of the year.
The culprit is oil, which accounts for about half of the price of gasoline. Oil prices have been hovering at the highest levels since 2014, and economists are predicting they will continue to go up, bringing gas along for the ride.
Oil prices had already been on the rise this year on worries that supply won’t be able to meet growing demand. Consumers have been going out more as COVID-19 infections retreat, increasing theneed to put fuel in their cars. Geopolitical tensions have put additional upward pressure on the price of oil as Russia and Ukraine face off over security issues. Russian troops have lined up near its border with Ukraine, sparking worries of a Russian invasion. If that were to happen, economists expect oil prices to easily breach $100 per barrel because Russia is one of the world’s top oil producers and any disruption could further crimp already low oil inventories.
Rising energy costs have already crept into many areas of our lives, not just at the gas pump. For example, import prices rose 2% in January, the largest monthly increase since April 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Wednesday, making the things we buy from China, Japan, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere in the world more expensive. Most of that increase was caused by soaring fuel prices, which advanced 9.3% in January and 60.3% over the past 12 months.
“Unfortunately for consumers, it does not appear that this trend will change anytime soon,” wrote Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, in a commentary this week.
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