By Johnny Jackson
Average gasoline prices in metro Atlanta have risen this month nearly as fast as they fell last month, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The report reveals that metro Atlanta experienced an 8-cent hike in the average retail price for regular unleaded gas over the week, heading into Monday. The average rose from $2.54 to $2.62 per gallon, between June 14 and June 21.
Last month, the report noted that the average price decreased by 10-cents over the week of May 17-24, from $2.80 to $2.70 per gallon.
Last month's price declines were related to falling crude oil prices, which eventually fell below $70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), according to Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.
Conversely, Brady said, the increase in crude prices recently has helped drive retail prices up. On June 18, crude oil closed on NYMEX at $77.17 a barrel.
"It's very likely the price of crude oil will increase further this week, as consumer demand has steadily increased in the last couple of weeks," Brady said. "Consumers can expect to see retail gas prices increase this week after crude oil closed $3.39 more than last week."
The AAA spokesperson said demand for crude oil grew last week by 9.3 million barrels a day, an increase of 1.6 percent from the previous week. She said increased demand has finally tapped into U.S. Stockpiles, which had been growing since late February.
"Demand is starting to pick up, and people are starting to travel more," she said, adding that prices have been affected by international currency changes as well.
Brady said China recently removed its fixed-rate on its currency, which is now able to increase in value. The euro also is up in value compared to the dollar, which helps push the price of crude oil higher by increasing its appeal as a commodity.
"That makes crude oil more affordable to foreign investors," Brady explained. "It's kind of a cocktail now for increased crude oil prices."