After rising for 32-consecutive days, gasoline prices set to continue trend

Prices at U.S. gasoline pumps have climbed for 32 consecutive days to a four-month high, as refinery closures cut output and higher crude prices raise costs.

The national retail gasoline price has risen 43 cents, or 13 percent, to $3.73 a gallon since Jan. 17, according to the Automobile Association of America.

Refinery shutdowns have "led to tighter supply, which also has driven up prices," said AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter.

Refineries normally schedule maintenance, which can run anywhere from a few days to several weeks, in January and February, as those two months among the lowest gasoline demand as inclement weather makes drivers more reluctant to take to the roads.

The problems were exacerbated by operational problems at oil terminals and refineries caused by superstorm Sandy, which slashed inventories.

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