Gas prices continue to creep up

Prices at the pump in New Hampshire are continuing their march up from last week.As of Wednesday, a gallon of regular gas in Manchester was about $2.75, a penny higher than the previous day and 3 cents higher than last week. A month ago, gas prices in the Queen City were a veritable steal at $2.67.The Seacoast has been faring slightly better. Prices are currently about $2.76, running essentially flat over the past week.Interestingly, diesel prices have remained fairly stable over the past week in Manchester, at about $2.96 per gallon, but showed a bit more volatility in Portsmouth, with Wednesday prices at $2.99, compared to $2.98 a day earlier and $2.96 a week ago.Diesel prices in both areas, however, have risen nearly 10 cents in the last month.The good news is New Hampshire gas prices are also about a dime cheaper than the national average of $2.86 per gallon for regular and $3.07 for diesel, according the weekly report by the federal Energy Information Administration.Analysts, however, remain concerned about the tentative stabilizing of the nation’s economy and rising gas prices – some 3 percent in New Hampshire since March alone.“Significant demand destruction appears to have taken place during the great recession,” said commodities analyst Steven Schork. “Prices are now approaching the top price quintile of >$2.86 and consumers are increasingly unwilling, or unable to pony up at the pump. … The bullish banks repeatedly claim that demand will return as the economy improves, and refiners can pass the high cost of crude on to the consumer. Well, the economy is improving, but consumers have started to walk away from gasoline at prices they cannot afford. Refiners cannot pass on the costs, and the major oil players are hemorrhaging money on the downstream. And still the May contract ran above $87 last week.”Oil was trading at below $84 per barrel near the close of the day’s session. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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