Gas prices edge higher

The latest gain marks the first time in 2009 that prices are higher than a year earlier.

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(CNN) -- Gas prices are up slightly from two weeks ago -- despite a decline in the price of oil, according to a survey published Sunday.

The average price nationwide for a gallon of self-serve regular is $2.68, up 3 cents from Oct. 23, the Lundberg Survey found.

"This is not from the price of crude, which actually backed off slightly in the past few days," said publisher Trilby Lundberg. "Instead, that small rise came from a bounce-back in the gasoline retailers' margin, which had been squeezed into single digits in October."

The margin retailers take per gallon is generally about 10 to 14 cents, she said. In October, it averaged between 7 and 9 cents. "This is a normalization," Lundberg said, "because (the margin) had been abnormally low."

The price is 39 cents higher than it was a year ago -- the first time a year-to-year increase has been seen this year, she said. "Last year, prices peaked in early July and they crashed all the way through the rest of the year at varying speeds ... but now, with the 18-cent rise between Oct. 9 and Oct. 23 plus this additional 3 cents ... these two lines in the graph, as it were, have crossed."

It's likely, however, that the current price represents a peak, and prices will begin to slip, absent a rise in crude oil prices, Lundberg said. Demand is down for a number of reasons, chief among them the unemployment rate.

"It is the work commute that causes that gallon to be sold much more than anything else," she said. In addition, fewer daylight hours and the approach of winter weather leave people driving less this time of year.

The highest average price for a gallon of self-serve regular was in Anchorage, Alaska, at $3.30 for a gallon of self-serve regular, Lundberg said. The lowest was in Tucson, Ariz., at $2.36. Interactive map: Gas prices state by state.

A look at prices in some other cities:

- Honolulu, Hawaii -- $3.20

- San Francisco, California -- $3.04

- Houston, Texas -- $2.49

- Atlanta, Georgia -- $2.58

- Des Moines, Iowa -- $2.62

- Boise, Idaho -- $2.70

- Burlington, Vermont -- $2.78

- Chicago, Illinois -- $2.88

- Sacramento, California -- $2.91

- Boston, Massachusetts -- $2.70

- Long Island area, New York -- $2.85

- Los Angeles, California -- $2.97 To top of page

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