Gas, home heating oil prices still rising

Laura Mansi of Hauppauge pumps 16 gallons of Laura Mansi of Hauppauge pumps 16 gallons of gas with her son, Ryan Mansi, which costs her $60.00 at a Gulf gas station in Hauppauge. (Dec. 15, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/Jessica Rotkiewicz

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Gasoline prices continue to rise, nudging the $3.30 mark Wednesday on Long Island - the highest since fall 2008.

Regular averaged $3.297 in Nassau and Suffolk counties Wednesday, according to a daily survey of credit card transactions at 100,000 stations nationally done for the AAA - up another 2.4 cents from the average a week earlier.

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Home heating oil also continues to rise - it was up by another three cents to $3.409 at full-service dealers in the week ended Monday, according to a survey by state Energy Research and Development Authority. That's also the highest since October 2008. The fuel that most Long Islanders use to heat their homes has risen by an average of 43 cents a gallon since August.

Experts say gasoline prices are close to peaking - for now - and could ease after the New Year, but motorists should expect another round of increases in the spring. Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions Llc, a research and consulting firm in Houston, thinks pump prices will drop by 10 to 15 cents a gallon in January. "They'll come off a little bit," he said.

But, he said, improving world economies suggest stronger petroleum demand, tighter supplies and still higher prices next year. "As long as the economy continues getting stronger, oil prices are not going to go back down anytime soon," he said.

Despite the high prices this month, the AAA predicted Wednesday that almost 86 million travelers would drive more than 50 miles from home between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, about 3 percent more than in the same period a year earlier.

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Crude oil prices are 25 percent higher than a year ago, at about $90 a barrel, in part the result of a decline in value of the dollar against foreign currencies, caused by the U.S. trade and federal deficits and low U.S. interest rates. Because oil is priced in dollars, it's a relative bargain for investors with foreign currencies.

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