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Gasoline prices may have peaked

NEW YORK - The average price for regular gasoline at US filling stations increased 3.74 cents over the past two weeks but may have peaked, said Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey Inc.

The jump to $3.9671 covers the period ended April 6 and is based on the Camarillo, Calif., company’s survey of about 2,500 stations.

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“Price hikes at the pump have been losing steam for weeks,’’ Lundberg said Sunday. “Crude oil prices have slipped and if they don’t rebound in the very near future, gasoline prices will peak very soon, if they haven’t already.’’

The highest price in the lower 48 states among the cities surveyed was in Chicago, where the average was $4.45 a gallon. The lowest price was in Tulsa, Okla., at $3.66.

“The price spikes had been led by places like Chicago and Los Angeles,’’ Lundberg said. “Now, we see some of these prices tumbling.’’

Gasoline on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 1.3 percent to $3.3405 a gallon in the two weeks ended April 5.

“Compared to the magnitude of recent price spikes, this is small,’’ Lundberg said. The increase was the smallest rise for the motor fuel since the two weeks between Jan. 6 and Jan. 20, according to Lundberg Survey. A decline in US oil prices over the past two weeks has helped, she said.

Prices had surged on speculation that refinery closings would tighten supplies and as crude rose on concern that tensions with Iran over its nuclear program would reduce oil supplies.

With the US jobs market and manufacturing showing improvement, higher pump prices before the peak summer driving season have become an issue in the presidential election. The Obama administration has said it is monitoring prices in 360 cities to guard against fraud or price manipulation.

Oil may decrease this week after the Federal Reserve signaled it may refrain from more monetary stimulus and US inventories surged the most since 2008, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Sixteen of 30 analysts, or 57 percent, forecast oil will fall through April. Five respondents, or 18 percent, predicted prices will rise, and seven estimated there will be little change. Last week, 62 percent expected a decline.

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