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Published: Tuesday, 12/28/2010

Gas prices zoom locally for 2nd week, hit $3.19

If you thought gas prices jumping past $3 a gallon in Toledo last week was just a pre-Christmas lump of coal from the oil industry and they'd come back down after the holiday, think again.

Prices rose sharply again Monday for the second in as many Mondays, reaching $3.199 a gallon for self-service, unleaded regular at increasing numbers of Toledo-area stations throughout the day.

The price is 14 cents higher than that seen a week previously, although at individual stations the one-day increase was significantly greater because prices had retreated during the intervening days.

The U.S. Department of Energy reported Monday that during the previous week, the national average price of regular gasoline had risen above $3 a gallon for the first time since October, 2008.

Both the local and national trends have tracked with the rising price of crude oil on world commodities markets.

Although benchmark oil for February delivery fell 51 cents to settle at $91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday, oil also remains near its two-year high, and financial analysts expect more increases in the coming year.

Investment banks including J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley predict a return to $100-a-barrel oil in 2011. Prices might dip this week, but "the market is really getting limber for a sprint come January," said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

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