‘Positive’ news has gas prices rising again

The recent surge in gasoline prices, after weeks of relative relief at the pumps, has divers cringing again.

In Georgia, for example, the average price for a gallon of unleaded is $3.40 this week, which is a 6-cent jump from last week, said Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA The Auto Club Group.

Florida’s average price is $3.45 a gallon, and Tennessee’s is $3.30 a gallon. Those states experienced a 3-cent increase from the previous week. The national average price of $3.45 a gallon, held steady from last week, she said.

“Retail gas prices continue to inch up, although it looks like the rate of increase has started to slow,” she said. “Prices are likely to continue their upward trend through the remainder of October, until news is released on whether or not agreements were made and a final plan presented for Europe’s [economic] bailout.”

Brady explained that crude oil prices kept increasing last week due to continued talks of a plan to resolve Europe’s debt crisis. The plan being discussed suggests more than $1 trillion to bail out Greece, and give European banks much-needed funds. The final plan hasn’t been drafted, but is expected to be finalized later this week, Brady said.

She said other fairly positive news also helped keep oil prices up. The U.S. Department of Energy determined that the demand for diesel fuel in the United States rose by 2.5 percent in September, and there was some growth in the nation’s manufacturing sector.

The county’s inventories of crude oil fell by 4.7 million barrels, to 333 million, she added. This is the lowest level since February 2010.

Overall, the positive news gave crude oil a small boost in price, and it settled on Oct. 21 at $87.40 a barrel, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a 60-cent increase from the week prior, said Brady.

“Until a final plan is reached by European leaders, it looks as if the market will continue to use ‘talks’ of a plan to hold onto any optimism that Europe’s debt issues are nearing an end,” she said. “Although crude prices have increased, they are doing so in very small increments.”