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U.S. Gasoline Prices Rise to $2.87 a Gallon: Survey

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose more than 8 cents over the past two weeks, an analyst said Sunday, but price declines at wholesale and in some Midwestern cities may herald an easing of pain at the pump for drivers this summer.

The national average for self-serve, regular unleaded gas was $2.8737 a gallon on April 20, up 8.43 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of some 7,000 gas stations.

The latest average was nearly 4 cents below the year-ago average price of $2.91 a gallon and about 15 cents below the Aug. 11, 2006, all-time high of $3.03.

"The average price may not meet or exceed that all-time high because the main reason for the price hike seen this year is rapidly dissipating," survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.

Lundberg expects the gasoline supply to expand, helped by foreign imports and a winding-down of maintenance and repair projects at several U.S. refineries that limited domestic supply.

"The domestic gasoline supply situation is normalizing," Lundberg said. "So prices should very, very soon peak and drift down."

Already Lundberg has seen steep declines across the country in the unbranded, wholesale channel, while some Midwestern cities showed retail declines as well.

"The Midwest sometimes proves to be a bellwether for a U.S. trend reversal," Lundberg said optimistically, though she was quick to note that a recovery could be trumped at any time by the crude oil market, which is jittery about production risks in Nigeria and Iran.

At $3.37 a gallon, San Francisco had the highest average price for self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline, while the lowest price was $2.65 a gallon in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lundberg said.