Gas Prices Continue Upward Climb

Just in time for peak driving season, higher gas prices.

ByABC News
March 12, 2012, 4:45 PM

March 12, 2012 — -- Gas prices continued to tip upward, to an average price of $3.83 a gallon, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Monday.

This week's average price for regular gas rose 26 cents from a year ago, and was up four cents from last week.

This week's figure was the highest price ever recorded in March, beating last week's record of $3.79, according to data going back to 1990.

Many consumers are tired of paying more than $4 a gallon for weeks in some parts of the country, including Western states like California. The EIA reported the average weekly price for the West Coast region was $4.22 a gallon.

The results of the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll show the damaging political effects of rising gasoline prices, which have surpassed the federal budget deficit as Obama's single weakest issue.

Americans by a broad 65-26 percent disapprove of how the president is handling the price of gas. Strong critics outnumber strong approvers by nearly 4-1. And 89 percent are concerned about the recent run-up in gas prices; 66 percent are "very" concerned about it.

The price of oil futures settled at $107.40 a barrel on Friday for delivery in April, up from $106.70 from the previous week. Tension over Iran's nuclear program has led to concern over the country's oil supplies. Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil producer and the third-largest crude oil exporter in the world, according to the EIA.

A pre-emptive military strike by the U.S. or Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities would likely lead to global crude supply disruptions and a jump in oil prices, analysts predict.

But oil prices fell on Monday after China reported a slowdown in growth in imports and exports in its February trade data over the weekend, suggesting a weakening global economy, the Associated Press reported.

The Oil Price Information Service said the price of gasoline surged by nearly a nickel over the weekend to $3.80 per gallon, the highest ever for this time of year.

Brian Hamilton, CEO of Sageworks, a financial information company, said gas prices remain a risk for everyone, like businesses.

He said private companies pay a substantial amount in gasoline expense as a percentage of their income statement for production and travel.

"The economy is getting better, but high gas prices could depress the historical expansionary cycle down from its four-year life cycle," Hamilton said.