COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gasoline prices rose yesterday for the 48th straight day, matching a record going back to at least the 1970s, with prices now up nearly two-thirds since the beginning of the year even as demand from motorists remains weak.
Yet the oil prices that influence what drivers pay at the pump are taking a breather from a three-month rise, with benchmark crude for July delivery falling $1.42 to settle at $70.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude prices fell a total of nearly 3 percent Friday and yesterday.
The good news for consumers is that gasoline prices may be peaking in the next couple of days, analysts said. The national average yesterday was $2.67 a gallon, up a penny from Sunday and 37 cents higher than a month ago.
In Philadelphia and the four suburban counties in Pennsylvania, yesterday's average was $2.69 a gallon compared with $2.68 on Sunday. In the three suburban counties in South Jersey, the pump price rose two cents yesterday to an average of $2.51 a gallon.
Consumers are now paying about $1 billion a day for gasoline compared with about $600 million a day over New Year's weekend and $1.5 billion a day or more a year ago, according to Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.