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Labor Day gas consumption to jolt prices

Petroleum industry officials say the recent decline in gasoline prices is probably over for the moment, and that prices will likely start to rise again.

Crude oil prices closed last week, Aug. 22, at $114.59 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

"Tensions with Russia, Georgia, Iran ... and a weaker U.S. dollar gave pause to the five-week decline in crude oil prices," said Randy Bly, director of community relations, AAA Auto Club South.

Higher crude oil prices, reduced domestic fuel inventories, and a weaker U.S. Dollar are expected to push retail gasoline prices higher this week. Below average gasoline inventories and U.S. refineries have decreased output in response to lower demand, to date.

"Traders are concerned that OPEC may decide to decrease crude oil production at their next meeting in September," Bly said. "With Labor Day Weekend approaching, we can expect an increase in fuel consumption, but a slightly lower gasoline inventory. That's why prices may go up."

- Johnny Jackson