AAA: Stable gas prices for the week

Average gasoline prices, nationwide, are as high as –– or higher than –– they have been for the past year, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Average prices in Georgia, as well as in metro Atlanta, have held steady over the past week at $2.87 per gallon of regular unleaded. The report indicated that Tuesday's per-gallon average in Georgia of $2.87 was 12-cents higher than a month ago, and some 45 cents higher than this time a year ago.

Holiday travelers are not likely to see much of an increase in those prices, heading into the weekend, according to Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

The price of crude oil has remained around the $90-a-barrel mark on the New York Mercantile Exchange, but a stronger U.S. dollar helped balance out slight increases spurred investor optimism, so the latest price is close to what it was two weeks ago, Brady noted.

AAA data shows that Georgia remains in the middle of the pack among the states, with its relatively low gas prices.

A few western states, such as Hawaii, Alaska and California, have far surpassed the $3-per-gallon mark already, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Average prices in northeastern states –– such as New York and Connecticut –– have also risen to about $3 since October.

The report showed that southern states have maintained some of the nations lowest averages, generally below $3 per gallon. However, Colorado and Wyoming had the lowest averages on Tuesday, at $2.74 and $2.79 per gallon, respectively.

Brady said "optimism is high in the market with investors projecting a boost in oil demand for 2011, after a report from the American Petroleum Institute revealed that fuel consumption in November rose 6.5 percent from this time last year.

"Although retail gas prices will remain high," she added, "the good news is they will not move higher, offering a slight sigh of relief for the many American's who fill their gas tanks this week before a long road trip."