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By Jennifer Yousfi
These days, consumers probably feel more like they've got a tiger by the tail.
And they should, for their family budget is certainly getting mauled.
Retail gas hit its 22nd consecutive daily high yesterday (Thursday), according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The average nationwide cost for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.952, while the average cost for a gallon of diesel was $4.787.
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According to the AAA survey, gas prices have increased nearly 10% from a month ago and are up almost 24% from one year ago, CNNMoney.com reported.
Connecticut has the highest average by state at $4.223 for a gallon of regular, while Missouri has the lowest at $3.761.
The average cost of gas has crossed the $4 threshold in 11 states and Washington, D.C.
The cost of gas has climbed steadily higher, following in the wake of soaring oil prices. Oil reached a record high of just above $135 per barrel on May 22, but since then the price has dropped.
Crude oil for July delivery fell $4.31, or 3.3%, to $126.72 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to Bloomberg data, as the high cost of gas is finally acting to curb consumer demand.
"There's a lot of demand destruction taking place," Nauman Barakat, senior vice president of global energy futures at Macquarie Futures USA Inc. in New York, told Bloomberg News. "We are probably headed for $120 in the near term."
But the slight reprieve we're currently experiencing is likely to reverse itself just as quickly as we head into the summer driving season and speculators continue to push up the price of "black gold."
Money Morning Investment Director Keith Fitz-Gerald - one of the first investment gurus to predict triple-digit oil prices - has boosted his own target, suggesting that oil could go as high as $225 a barrel.
"The math is really simple here," Fitz-Gerald said in a recent e-mail interview from China. "We are burning through supplies at a rate that's four times to five times faster than we're discovering new reserves. Throw in a few [surprises]... perhaps a terrorist event... and add in the accelerating use of oil and gasoline in Third World countries, and we have the recipe for far higher prices."
News and Related Story Links:
Record gas prices: 22 straight days
AAA's Media Site for Retail Gasoline Prices:
Daily Fuel Gauge Report
Oil Falls More Than $4 as Fuel Demand Drops, Dollar Rallies
Exxon Mobil Corp: