NEW YORK - Gasoline prices nationwide held steady yesterday both nationally and in the eight-county Philadelphia area as a recent slide in oil futures stalled gas' advance.

But crude oil futures prices rose modestly yesterday on concerns about heating-oil supplies for next winter and on an OPEC official's comment that there still was no need for the group to pump more oil.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said there was no quick fix to high oil prices, which he called an issue of supply and demand.

"I don't see a lot of short-term answers," he added during a trip to the Middle East.

He said he would like to see "increased investment throughout the world in oil and gas and alternative sources of energy."

At the pump yesterday, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas was unchanged at $3.98, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, matching a record set Sunday.

In Philadelphia and its four suburban counties in Pennsylvania, the average yesterday remained at $4.03, AAA Mid-Atlantic said. In the three suburban counties in South Jersey, the average yesterday was $3.87.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery rose 41 cents to settle at $127.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

But while gas prices did not rise overnight, they are up 1.3 cents a gallon since Friday and may continue rising regardless of what oil futures do.

That's because gas supplies have been falling while summer-driving demand picks up.

Gas prices are already higher than $4 in many parts of the country, and they average more than that in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

However, continued declines in oil prices would remove one of the reasons gas prices are near $4 on a national basis. And that could lead to lower prices as the summer wears on.