U.S. Gas Prices Leap Another 4 Cents

NEW YORK -- The surge in oil prices continues to drive retail gasoline prices higher in the U.S.

Pump prices jumped another 4 cents Thursday to a new national average of $3.43 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Gasoline has climbed more than 29 cents per gallon since the uprising in Libya began in the middle of February, costing Americans an extra $108 million per day to buy the same amount of fuel.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi continued to battle for control of the country with mutinous army units and other rebels. Libya, which sits on the most reserves in Africa and is a major exporter to Europe, continues to produce oil, though experts say it's unclear how much will eventually make it to international ports.

The fighting, combined with international sanctions, could keep companies from doing business with Libya. Refineries in Europe are finding other sources of crude.

Oil traders say they've mostly priced in the loss of Libyan production. The so-called "fear premium" could rise further if similar pro-reform movements escalate in neighboring countries such as Algeria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But on Thursday prices dropped from two-year highs set earlier in the week.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April delivery gave up 50 cents at $101.73 per barrel in morning trading on the Nymex.

In other Nymex trading for April contracts, heating oil fell 2 cents to $3.0383 per gallon and gasoline futures lost 3 cents at $2.9981 per gallon. Natural gas gave up 2 cents at $3.796 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude fell $1.69 to $114.66 per barrel.