Gas prices continued to climb in the past week to a national average of $3.44 for a gallon of regular unleaded, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Thursday, predicting that prices should continue to move higher in the weeks to come. The national average was up 6 cents from a week ago and 16 cents from a month ago, AAA said, although the increases this year have yet to match the bigger increases that occurred in 2013. On Feb. 27 last year, the average price was $3.79 for regular unleaded, 35 cents more than today.
Diesel fuel prices crept up 3 cents the past week to $4. Diesel is 12 cents higher than a month ago but 14 cents less than a year ago.
Oil prices have remained above $100 a barrel for three weeks, and AAA said if those prices remain elevated, motorists should expect higher gas prices in the coming months. Warmer weather boosts demand for gas, and refineries will soon switch to more expensive summer blends in many parts of the country.
Hawaii, because of its isolated location, had the highest average price for regular unleaded at $4.07, but prices in California rose 8 cents during the past week to $3.82. The California average has shot up 23 cents during the past three weeks, and in Colorado prices have jumped 30 cents to $3.52 during the same period. Among other states where motorists are seeing high pump prices are Alaska, $3.76; Connecticut, $3.75; and New York, $3.73.
Prices also have climbed significantly during the past three weeks in Indiana and Ohio. The $3.53 average in Indiana is 26 cents higher than on Feb. 6, and the $3.51 average in Ohio is 25 cents higher.
South Carolina had the lowest average pump price as of Thursday at $3.16 a gallon, and Montana was next at $3.17. Montana prices have moved up 11 cents in the past two weeks.
The average price was $3.21 in Alabama and Mississippi, and $3.22 in Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.
AAA said prices typically rise this time of year because refineries shut down for routine maintenance, but cold weather and reduced demand for gas have helped keep this year's increases at the pump lower than in recent years.
The national average has gone up 11 cents since the first of the year. In 2012, prices rose 45 cents in the first two months, and in 2013 they rose 49 cents.