If your wallet has felt a little thinner in the past couple of days it may be because you filled up your gas tank.
Gas prices in the area have seen a jump of more than 30 cents per gallon for regular unleaded in the past several weeks. That is one of the sharpest jumps in gas prices seen for quite a while.
It was just last week that stations in southeast Missouri were selling unleaded gas for under $3 a gallon. On Wednesday many of those same stations had hiked their prices to anywhere from $3.09 to $3.19. By Thursday the price for a gallon of unleaded was going for as high as $3.30 at some fuel outlets in the area.
According to GasBuddy.com, the national average started to lurch forward in the last few days, being pushed higher by refinery turnarounds and other “kinks” in both the United States and Canada.
Wrote GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan on Thursday, “Make no mistake — virtually all villages, towns, and cities will see an impact if they haven't already. The national average could easily tack on an additional 10 to 15 cents a gallon over the next week, leading to one of the sharpest increases we've seen this early in the year.”
Over the last month, crude oil prices have risen over 4 percent and are approaching $100 a barrel, according to CNNMoney. The site states that analysts believe they'll soon be trading in the triple digits. Gasoline futures are up even more, rising 8 percent over the last month.
Prices are rising in part, say experts, because of the cyclical nature of energy prices. They traditionally rise ahead of strong summer demand and these rises are happening earlier and earlier every year. But there’s another reason they may be rising — a sense that the economy is getting better. Unfortunately, when that happens, higher gas prices often lead people to pull back their spending on other things. Add to that the shock consumers felt from the recent expiration of the payroll tax holiday.
Financial experts say that every penny gasoline prices rise costs consumers a billion dollars over the course of a year. Still, there might not be an immediate effect on economic growth quite yet. Oil and gas prices were at this same level just a few months ago. Oil prices were substantially higher at the start of 2012.
Thanks in large part to an oil and gas production boom in the United States, gasoline prices are expected to average less than last year when U.S. motorists spent a record $479 billion at the pump.
Here’s something to look forward to — some analysts are saying that U.S. oil prices could briefly dip to $50 a barrel sometime in the next two years. Keep that in mind when YOU dip a little deeper into your wallets and purses to fill up your car’s gas tank in the new year.
Keep current with the ups and downs of area gas prices by checking the Daily Journal website at www.dailyjournalonline.com.
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 114 or email@example.com