The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps rose 6.68 cents a gallon in the past three weeks to $3.3247 as a rally in crude prices led refiners to boost costs for fuel marketers, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.
The survey covers the period ended Jan. 11 and is based on information obtained from about 2,500 stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The increase in the latest report is the first in 11 weeks and the average is down 3.49 cents from a year earlier.
“It comes mostly from higher crude oil prices,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “U.S. refineries are paying more for crude and now are passing along those costs to their marketers.”
West Texas Intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $4.90, or 5.5 percent, to $93.56 a barrel in the three weeks to Jan. 11.
Crude inventories rose 1.31 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 4 to 361.3 million, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It was the first increase in four weeks. Refineries ran at 89.1 percent of capacity, down 1.3 percentage points.
Gasoline futures on the Nymex rose 0.48 cent to $2.7395 a gallon in the past three weeks. Futures have dropped 2.6 percent since December.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose to the highest level since February 2011 in the week ended Jan. 4, climbing 7.41 million barrels to 233.1 million. Supplies, up 16 percent in seven weeks, are the highest seasonally since the department began reporting weekly data in 1990.
Oil may rise this week after China’s exports jumped more than forecast last month, bolstering optimism that growth will accelerate, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Fourteen of 28 analysts, or 50 percent, forecast crude will increase through Jan. 18. Nine respondents, or 32 percent, predicted a decline. Five forecast little change. Last week, 58 percent of analysts projected a gain. The European Central Bank this month cut its 2013 euro-area economic forecast to a contraction of 0.3 percent from 0.5 percent growth.
Regular gasoline on Long Island averaged $3.75 a gallon, the highest in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed, Lundberg said. Salt Lake City posted the lowest average price at $2.76 a gallon. Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $3.65.
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