Gas prices headed higher over the weekend, with a gallon of regular no-lead averaging $2.54 today - up 4 cents - in the five-county Philadelphia region, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported today.

South Jersey's average was up 3 cents since Friday, to $2.35.

The national average was up 4 cents, to $2.51.

Diesel was up 1 cent a gallon in the Philly area, to $2.58, and was up 3 cents in South Jersey, to $2.25.

The national diesel average was up 3 cents over the weekend, to $2.38.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose to near $68 a barrel, hitting a new high for the year as world stock markets rallied and investors banked on hopes that the global recession is easing.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was up $1.41 to $67.72 a barrel by mid-afternoon in Europe in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest level since early November. It had traded above $68 earlier in the day.

Oil prices have almost doubled from below $35 a barrel in March as investors have taken heart from signs a severe recession in the United States is slowing. Asian and European stock markets rose today as surveys showed Chinese manufacturing expanded in May and on hopes that a post-bankruptcy General Motors Corp. would be a leaner and healthier company.

However, global oil demand remains weak and U.S. supplies are near 19-year highs. And higher oil prices could drag on any nascent recovery.