$2 per gallon nationwide

/ Source: The Associated Press

The retail price of gasoline rose 7 cents last week to average $2 per gallon nationwide, the Energy Department reported Monday.

That’s the highest average price since early November, but still six pennies below the peak set last May. The jump in retail gasoline prices coincided with a 25-cent-per-gallon increase in the price of gasoline futures last week and as crude oil futures briefly rallied above $55 a barrel.

The government survey said the average price nationwide of regular-grade unleaded gasoline rose 7.1 cents last week to $1.999 per gallon. Prices are 26.1 cents higher than a year ago.

Pump prices are highest on the West Coast, averaging $2.174 per gallon, and cheapest on the Gulf Coast, averaging $1.900 per gallon. In the Midwest, gas averages $2.009 per gallon.

One of the key factors that drove the price of gasoline higher was the rising cost of oil — the result of strong demand, tight global supplies, geopolitical uncertainties and the falling value of the dollar.

The price of light crude for March delivery rose 11 cents to $53.89 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil is about 45 percent more expensive than a year ago.

In other Nymex trading, November gasoline futures fell by less than a cent to $1.5053 per gallon.