Average pump price passes $3.50 for first time in 6 months

HOUSTON — The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has passed $3.50 for the first time since Sept. 18, according to AAA.

Gasoline for U.S. drivers has jumped 23 cents over the last 34 days, reaching $3.504 on Thursday. Gas prices in Texas remain below the national average, with a gallon of regular in Houston costing $3.23, according to AAA.

The national average price increased on 33 of the last 34 days, primarily because of refinery maintenance and changes in fuel blends for warmer weather, AAA said.

Still, the average pump price is 20 cents less than it was a year ago, mainly because the cold winter has reduced driving in many regions, AAA said.

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The average pump price is expected to rise slowly into the summer months and likely won’t exceed last year’s peak of $3.79, the group said.

The national average for a gallon of regular this year will peak between $3.55 and $3.75, AAA projected.

The Houston area is among the cheapest in the nation for gasoline, with just 14 percent of stations nationwide selling a gallon of regular for less than $3.25, according to AAA.

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Pain at the pump? Smile. At least you don’t live in Norway.