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National average gas price has hit a new record, fuel analysts say

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(NEXSTAR) – The cost of gasoline has reached a new, unwelcome milestone.

For the first time ever, the national average price of gas has topped $5 per gallon, effectively “crushing” the previous record, according to the data analysts at GasBuddy, a tech firm and fuel-pricing resource.

“It’s been one kink after another this year, and worst of all, demand doesn’t seem to be responding to the surge in gas prices, meaning there is a high probability that prices could go even higher in the weeks ahead,” said Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy in a press release issued Thursday morning.

As of Thursday, however, AAA had recorded a lower national average price for gasoline — albeit only a few cents cheaper at $4.97 per gallon.

Still, analysts at AAA suggest it’s only a matter of time until their national average exceeds $5 as well.

“People are still fueling up, despite these high prices,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said earlier this month.

Gas prices have been on the rise for over a year, but recent developments — increased demand going into the summer, and Russia’s war on Ukraine — have pushed up the price of oil in the last few months. In March of 2022, the national average price of gas exceeded $4 per gallon for the first time in nearly 15 years, and prices have only continued to climb.

Some analysts say rising oil prices — as well as uncertainty over the situation in Russia — could possibly push the country toward a $6 national average, too.

“When we think about $200 a barrel, you are looking at $6 plus a gallon at the pump,” said Michael Tran, an RBC Capital analyst, in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live in March.

Tran said it’s not “unfathomable” that oil could reach $200 per barrel. But he added that such a situation could, in theory, trigger a recession and cause prices to crash — a scenario that RCB does not believe to be likely, but at least possible.

Meanwhile, the average gas price has already surged past $6 per gallon in California, with more than a dozen states following not far behind with prices exceeding $5.

“At some point, drivers may change their daily driving habits or lifestyle due to these high prices,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross, “but we are not there yet.”

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