Analyst says the cost of gas may have plateaued

By Martinne Geller/Reuters

NEW YORK — The average price for a gallon of gasoline rose 11.5 cents in the past two weeks, but the lift was smaller than in prior weeks, and price increases may be near an end, a widely followed industry analyst said Sunday.

The national average for self-serve regular unleaded gas was $3.88 a gallon on April 22, up 11.53 cents per gallon from April 8, according to the nationwide Lundberg Survey.

The price was still below the July 11, 2008, all-time high of $4.11, and survey editor Trilby Lundberg said there was a “very good chance” that gasoline prices would not rise to meet that level.

“There is some possibility that prices might already be peaking,” Lundberg told Reuters, citing the slip in crude oil prices in recent weeks. “It would be going out on a limb to make any prediction now … but if there was a plateau, this might be the end or close to the end of gasoline price increases.”

Lundberg said that gasoline demand in the United States has weakened as the price has increased, due largely to continued unemployment.

A gallon of gas cost $3.765 on April 8, Lundberg said, a rise of more than 19 cents from the prior survey in mid-March.

Gasoline prices have increased by $1.19 in the past seven months and 70 cents in just the past nine weeks, Lundberg said, citing “world demand for crude oil, the weakening dollar and the Middle East/North Africa crisis culminating in civil war in Libya”.

At $4.27 a gallon, Chicago had the highest average price for self-serve regular unleaded gas in the lower 48 states, while the lowest price was $3.54 a gallon in Tuscon, Arizona.