Gas prices start February higher

Gasoline prices are still 37% down from a year ago and off 55% from their July high of $4.114 a gallon.

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Catherine Tymkiw, producer

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NEW YORK ( -- Gasoline prices started February slightly higher, edging up a modest 1 cent, according to a daily survey of credit card swipes.

The price of gas hit a national average of $1.867 a gallon, up slightly from $1.855 a gallon on Saturday, according to motorist group AAA. Prices have been on an upward trajectory since the start of the year, gaining some 14% in January.

But prices are still 37% lower than the same time a year ago, when a gallon of gas cost $2.987, and are 55% off the July 17 record high price of $4.114 - a level not likely to be seen anytime soon.

Auto sales continue to plunge and many drivers who stayed off the road during the summer high driving season because of record high prices are still using other modes of transport.

The trifecta is gasoline's relationship to oil. Because gas is a product of crude oil, it tends to rise and fall in tandem with oil prices. The drop-off in crude during the last half of 2008 helped push gas prices lower but as the year started the two prices were not always in sync.

That is largely due to two factors: lower demand and a lag as the product moves through the pipeline.

Saturday, gas prices were above $2 a gallon in 6 states: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Nevada, New York and Washington. The cheapest gas was available in Wyoming, where a gallon cost $1.547.

The AAA figures are statewide averages based on credit card swipes at up to 100,000 service stations across the nation.  To top of page

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