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More gas pains for drivers
AAA: Prices climb nearly 3 cents nationwide; price changes fluctuate between regions, states.
September 30, 2005: 12:10 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Gasoline prices rose sharply Friday, climbing nearly three cents a gallon, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report.

The national average for regular unleaded gasoline rose to $2.843 a gallon from $2.815 Thursday, according to the travel club. Prices had climbed in the Thursday report by 0.4 cent.

Gasoline prices have retreated since Labor Day, when they crested at $3.057 following Hurricane Katrina. Pump prices have fluctuated after Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast on Saturday.

Rita caused significant damage when it slammed into the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast early Saturday morning with 120 mph winds, although it was less destructive than Hurricane Katrina. While crude oil output was shut by the storm, many Texas refineries were spared, although their output has slowed.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $1.916 a year ago, AAA reported.

The publisher of the Lundberg survey, a comparable study of gas prices around the U.S. released Sunday, believed that prices will probably fall another 10 to 20 cents per gallon once refineries shuttered by Katrina and Rita come back online.

Mid-grade and premium gasoline also rose across the country Friday. The nationwide average at the pump for mid-grade gasoline rose to $3.018 from $2.989 a gallon Friday. Premium gasoline also climbed by over three cents to $3.129 a gallon from $3.098, AAA reported.

Diesel prices climbed by over four cents to $2.928 from Thursday's price of $2.887.

While the price of gasoline is on the upswing nationally, drivers in different states are having different experiences at the pump. Drivers in most of the Southeast region, in states such as Georgia, Florida and Alabama, the average price of regular unleaded is climbing anywhere from 4 to 8 cents, according to AAA.

In the upper Midwest region, in states such as Michigan, gasoline prices jumped by over 8 cents a gallon to $2.779 a gallon, but are still below the national average.

Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey drivers saw a decline of about a penny Friday, according to the travel club.

AAA's report on Friday revealed Hawaii remains the most expensive state in the country, with the average cost of regular unleaded being $3.254. Gas in Oklahoma was the cheapest, with regular unleaded at $2.644, on average.

AAA officials say the incongruent price changes are due to lingering supply disruptions from hurricanes Katrina and Rita and local factors as well.

As gas prices rise, more people are buying gasoline on credit, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores. The association told CNN that its members report nearly 80 percent of gas transactions are now being made by credit or debit card.

In the first half of the year, that figure was 70 percent -- compared to 54 percent in the first half of 2004 and 53 percent in 2003.

And Reuters reported Wednesday that a record number of Americans delayed making credit card payments in the second quarter as rising gasoline prices made it tougher for many people to pay their bills.

The American Bankers Association said the percentage of card accounts 30 days or more past due rose to 4.81 percent from 4.76 percent in the first quarter. The latter number was revised upward from 4.03 percent.

-- from staff and wire reports

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Tell us your story: Have rising gas prices forced you to cut back spending? Have you suffered long lines when filling up? We'd like to hear your story for an upcoming feature. E-mail us at gasprices@cnn.com.

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Minnesota makes inroads into bio diesel -- Click here.

Click here to find out was driving in the Southeast isn't so peachy.

Click here for CNN/Money's special report 'Oil Crunch 2005'.  Top of page

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