Gas tops $3.90 nationwide

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The average price of a gallon of gasoline reached the $3.90 mark Friday, after climbing 2 cents overnight, according to a survey by motorist group AAA.

With Friday's boost, gas prices have increased for 38 days in a row. During that time, prices have risen more than 36 cents, a jump of 10%.

Gasoline prices and taxes by state
Prices at the pump can vary widely among states due to a number of factors. More

While the national average remains 21 cents below the record high of $4.114, gas prices in some U.S. states have already risen to new all-time highs.

Ohio became the latest state where gas prices now average more than $4 a gallon. Gas prices in the state now average $4.054 a gallon, up a staggering 12 cents from Thursday.

Gas now averages more than $4 a gallon in nine states and the District of Columbia. But prices remain below the national average in 18 states, with the cheapest prices in Wyoming, where gas averages $3.59 a gallon.

The recent surge reflects a runup in the price of crude oil, which has spiked above $110 a barrel, up 20% in the year to date. But gas prices are also being driven by seasonal factors, including scheduled maintenance at oil refineries.

Many states require gas stations to sell cleaner blends of gasoline during the summer months, when Americans do most of their driving for the year. As a result, oil refiners often shut down for a period of time to retool, which can put upward pressure on gas prices.

While gas prices typically rise at this time of year, many analysts note that prices were already unusually high before the annual runup into the so-called summer driving season.

That's because oil prices have been extremely volatile, with turmoil in the Middle East and a weak U.S. dollar spurring the rise. In addition, demand for energy has been strong in rapidly expanding economies, particularly China's.

Meanwhile, consumers appear to be cutting back on spending as gas prices take a bigger bite out of household budgets.

Government data released Thursday showed that U.S. economic growth slowed in the first quarter to 1.8% from 3.1% in the previous quarter, reflecting pullback in consumer spending and higher prices imported oil.

The economic pain caused by high gas prices has become politically charged, with officials in Washington calling for an end to federal subsidies for oil and gas companies.

President Obama announced earlier this week that the Justice Department will form a task force to investigate possible manipulation of the oil and gas markets.  To top of page

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