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Published: Friday, 3/17/2006

Heavy demand cited in spike of gasoline prices

The price of gasoline has jumped into the $2.60s a gallon for self-service, regular unleaded at many area gas stations in the last two days, reaching levels not seen since the weeks immediately after Hurricane Rita's autumn assault on the Texas coast.

Local prices have risen sharply since the President's Day weekend, when some area gas stations were under $2 a gallon for regular and most charged below $2.10. The local trend is consistent with higher gasoline prices nationwide.

An analysis issued Wednesday by the federal Energy Information Administration said prices of crude oil and imported gasoline are being buoyed by heavy demand from importers who expect prices for both to rise as the year progresses.

Thus they continue to buy oil and gasoline despite high prices and inventories that are above typical levels for this time of year, EIA said.

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