TAMPA, Fla. - Oil prices increased last week on optimism that both European and U.S. economies are improving and will result in higher fuel demand. Although the cost of oil has been on the rise since January 1, retail gas prices have remained relatively stable. So far, gas prices have not surpassed year-ago levels; however, the cost for a gallon of gas inched back up again this week.
German business confidence rose for the third month in January and pushed the euro to an 11-month high against the dollar. A stronger euro means higher oil prices. In addition, the U.S. Labor Department reported positive news that jobless claims fell to a five-year low last week.
"Oil prices are on an upswing right now and gas prices are starting to follow suit," said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. "Although motorists shouldn't see too much fluctuation in gas prices at the moment, prices are sure to rise in March. So far this year, we have not seen record-breaking pump prices and the cost for a gallon of gas remains below year-ago levels."
A barrel of oil closed Friday at $95.88 on the New York Mercantile Exchange-32 cents more than the week prior.
The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.347, 3 cents more than last week. Florida's average of $3.42 remains unchanged. Georgia's average of $3.32 rose 2 cents, and Tennessee's average of $3.18 increased 1 cent from last week, respectively. Visit AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report to find national, state, and local metro market retail gasoline prices.