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Which Way Will They Go? Summer Gas Prices Remain a Mystery

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On: Sat, Jun 4, 2011 at 12:06PM | By: Chris Weiss

Which Way Will They Go? Summer Gas Prices Remain a Mystery

Well, last weekend we celebrated the unofficial start of summer. Because weather remains cool, unpredictable, and sometimes downright inclement in many places during late May, many people around the country undoubtedly celebrated Memorial Day by flocking to warmer, more southerly locales.

I sure did. And while my overall weekend was excellent, it served as a big reminder: Gas prices are pretty awful. I spent the weekend camping for free, doing free outdoor activities, and eating super-cheap food like grilled hot dogs and sandwiches. Yet, I still managed to spend somewhere around $150 or $200 just on gas.

According to a new HybridCars.com report, gas prices may be a little less burdensome during the rest of the summer, but the reprieve won't last.

Just a few weeks ago, analysts were predicting that gas prices would rise to a nationwide average of over $4 per gallon before plateauing. Since then, gas prices have instead fallen, hovering around $3.80 per gallon (down from $3.96 a month ago).

According to HybridCars, Memorial Day weekend travelers spent an average of $23 more at the pump than last year, despite the recent drop in average gas prices. And after the end of the long weekend, crude oil prices spiked to around $103 per barrel on Tuesday, which could mean that gas prices will be back on the rise. Fourth of July could very well be even more expensive than Memorial Day.

Then again, it could be cheaper, too. Analysts disagree as to what caused this week's crude-oil spike, but seem to be of the mind that prices should decline over the next few months, lightening the burden on consumers during the summer—pretty much the opposite of what we were hearing a few short weeks ago.

While the news is good for summer travelers and road-trippers—or at least it will be if it actually comes true—oil prices are expected to rise to the tune of $120 to $150 per barrel by the end of the year. That could lead to new record-setting highs at the pump, pushing the $5 per gallon mark. Not good news.

But, since analysts can't seem to accurately predict a few weeks ahead, there's still a lot of time and a lot of possible ups and downs before we near that horrifying $5 per gallon.


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