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Gas prices nudge up a half-cent

/ Source: The Associated Press

Retail gasoline prices rose about a half-cent per gallon in the past two weeks as crude oil prices remained firm and demand increased because of the improving economy, an industry analyst said Sunday.

However, supplies were strong and “it’s a very modest rise,” Trilby Lundberg said.

The average price Friday for a gallon of self-serve gas nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.55, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations. That was up 0.53 cents since Nov. 7.

It was 11.34 cents higher than the average on the same day last year.

The increase ended a two-month decline, during which prices slipped nearly 20 cents following the end of a supply crunch.

Crude oil prices remained strong at about $31 a barrel and “gasoline demand apparently is stronger on the recovering economy,” Lundberg said.

Moderate price increases are expected in the short term unless the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decides to cut production at its Dec. 4 meeting, or there are “glitches” in the rollout next month of gasoline blends with the pollution-reducing additive ethanol, she said.

The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.52 for regular, $1.62 for mid-grade and $1.71 for premium.