U.S. retail gasoline prices are less than a cent from record highs due to near-record costs for crude oil, which have soared on rising world demand, and little spare production capacity, motor group AAA (search) said on Tuesday.
With gasoline prices rising in winter, it's nearly a sure bet that the record will be eclipsed soon, far ahead of the high-demand summer period when prices have traditionally been the highest, an AAA spokeswoman said.
The average price for regular gasoline was $2.048 per gallon on Tuesday, just off the record of $2.054 set last May 26, AAA said.
Tuesday's average is about 16 cents higher than last month's average and about 33 cents higher than this time last year.
"For several weeks, analysts have predicted new record high prices this spring," said Dawn Duffy, AAA spokeswoman. "The same dynamics that created record high prices last year still exist today, including the seasonal switch to summer fuel production. The one difference is that crude oil traded at $37 per barrel a year ago, but now hovers near $54 today."
The U.S. government also this week said gasoline prices are within a cent of its record.
The AAA conducts surveys published fives days a week while the U.S. Energy Information Administration (search) publishes weekly surveys of gasoline pump prices.
Diesel fuel (search) pump prices are also near a record, hitting $2.234 a gallon on Tuesday, which is only 1.5 cents less than the record set last Nov. 1.
AAA is the largest motor club in the United States.
According to the AAA, the highest prices for self-serve regular were in Hawaii at $2.446 a gallon; California at $2.312; Nevada at $2.263; Oregon at $2.144; Washington state at $2.136; New York at $2.124; and Michigan at $2.106.
The U.S. government on Monday said its data for the national average for self-serve regular gasoline was $2.056 a gallon, near the record set last May at $2.064 a gallon.