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Strong dollar leads to weak gas prices

The average price of regular unleaded gas in metro Atlanta fell to $2.51 per gallon on Tuesday, continuing a trend of declining gas prices nationwide, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report.

AAA's report notes that the metro-Atlanta average is as low as prices have been the entire first month of the year, and is down six cents from $2.57 per gallon of regular unleaded gas a week ago.

Crude oil prices fell 13 percent late last week due, in part, to the rising value of the U.S. dollar, according to Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

"The U.S. dollar continued to rise in strength against the euro making commodities, such as crude oil, less attractive to investors," said Brady.

Brady said crude oil reached a 15-month high of $83.93 on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Jan. 11, sending average gas prices up to unexpected highs near $3 per gallon nationwide. Crude oil closed at $72.89 a barrel Friday.

"It's very likely we will continue to see prices for both crude oil and retail gasoline decline throughout next week," Brady added. "The still-high unemployment numbers continue to keep demand for crude at a minimum, while supplies continue to rise."

Average prices throughout Georgia continue to hover around the $2.54-per-gallon mark — cheaper, by 12 cents, than the national $2.66 average for regular unleaded gas.