Gas Could Hit $4.50 By Summer: Economist

Gasoline prices in US could climb to $4.50 a gallon by summer, Jan Stuart, a global oil economist for Macquarie, told CNBC Tuesday, driven by demand around the world.

“It’s a global story,” said Stuart about oil and gasoline prices. “On the middle-distance front, we find that it’s tight already. On the NAFTA gasoline LPG front, we find it’s tightening up much faster than people thought.”

Stuart said oil consumption in the US rose last year, by 1 percent plus, which was significant because of very high unemployment. For US demand to fall, he said, fundamental changes have to take place.

He also said that the oil market will experience a correction, but didn’t predict when it would happen.

“Global demand is at its highest level now because emerging market demand has risen phenomenally in the last 3, 4, 5, 6 years,” he added.

“The economy is weak in the United States and Europe. The question is, to what extent does it matter if you derail, let’s say, a significant import economy, such as the European Union?”