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Utah’s state average gas price is the fifth lowest in the United States, but that doesn’t provide much consolation to motorists. According to the latest report from AAA Insurance, which tracks fuel costs as a service to consumers, every metro area in the state tracked by AAA saw an increase at the pump over the last month. Of the Utah metro areas tracked by AAA, Salt Lake City had the highest month-to-month price increase with a 69-cent jump.
Utah’s current average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.57, which is an increase of 48 cents since last month’s AAA report on February 14. Today’s price is 16 cents higher than a year ago. Of the Utah cities surveyed by AAA, Salt Lake City had the highest average price at $3.74 per gallon. Ogden and St. George’s prices were tied for the lowest at $3.53 per gallon.
The national average price of $3.81 is up by 30 cents, which is 25 cents more than the national price on this date last year, when it was $3.56.
“Investors’ buying activity continues to be the dominate influence that is pushing prices higher,” said AAA Insurance spokesperson Matt Skryja. “Recent positive economic indicators in the United States and Europe have inspired investors to buy more oil and gas futures, which has helped to push up the price of oil and gas. However, there may be some relief in sight. Just yesterday, concerns over a slowing economy in China and easing tensions with Iran helped pull down the price of oil.”
That downward pull follows a steady stream of influences that have been causing the price of oil to rise. On Friday, reports surfaced that the European Union was nearing a positive resolution to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. When this news was combined with positive U.S. jobs numbers, it inspired investor buying activity and propelled the price of crude back toward its high for the year. All of this recent increased buying behavior comes at a time when demand for gasoline continues to be dismal. A four-week average of Department of Energy figures last week showed that the United States was using a reported 8.355 million barrels per day. To provide some context, five of the previous six years saw an average demand of 9 million barrels or more for the same period. This most recent report marked the lowest figure since March 2001.
Hilo, Hawaii, holds the dubious crown for the highest average price in the nation, at $4.61 per gallon. The highest price reported by AAA in the lower 48 states is in Eureka, California, where the average price is $4.47.
Among all 50 states, Hawaii has the highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline at $4.44. Among the lower 48 states, the highest average state price reported by AAA was achieved by California, with an average price of $4.36. Hawaii, California, Alaska, Illinois, and the District of Columbia all have averages above four dollars per gallon. Alaska has the third highest state average price at $4.19.