NEW YORK — The price of gasoline is less than a dime away from last year’s high.
The nationwide average for a gallon of gas reached $3.90 on Monday.
And the price typically rises in the weeks ahead of Memorial Day weekend — the traditional kickoff of the summer driving season.
The national average peaked last year in early May at an average price of $3.98 per gallon. The record high of $4.11 was set in July 2008.
The price of gasoline has risen this year along with the price of crude oil. Benchmark U.S. crude is up by 8 percent already. The price of a barrel fell 20 cents to $106.67 Monday in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported by U.S. refineries, added 19 cents to $125.32 per barrel in London.
Oil has been rising this year as Western nations confront Iran over its nuclear program. They fear that Iran is building a weapon, though it denies the claim. Western leaders are trying to cut off Iran’s oil revenues through a variety of sanctions, In hopes of forcing it to negotiate.
Representatives from the U.S. and five other nations are expected to meet with Iran in April for a new round of talks about its nuclear program, diplomats told The Associated Press. The country turned away international inspectors in February.
Meanwhile, natural gas prices are close to hitting a 10-year low. The futures contract dropped 2.5 cents to $2.25 per 1,000 cubic feet in midday trading. It fell as low as $2.224 per 1,000 cubic feet earlier in the day.
Natural gas prices have plummeted this year due to a recent production boom and unseasonably warm temperatures. Analysts say that U.S. has so much gas that storage facilities may run out of space.
“If there isn’t any place to put it, then (producers) are going to be burning it off instead,” PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.
In other energy trading, heating oil added 0.82 cent to $3.2183 per gallon and gasoline futures increased by 1.99 cents to $3.4051 per gallon.
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