Fri, December 24, 2010
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Paying up at the pump

2010-12-24 08:46:04 GMT2010-12-24 16:46:04 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Gasoline prices top $3 a gallon just as Americans hit the road for the year-end holidays. It's been more than two years since drivers paid this much at the pump. That's not enough to put the brakes on the holiday plans. AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair:

SOUNDBITE: ROBERT SINCLAIR JR., MANAGER MEDIA RELATIONS, AAA NEW YORK (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"American drivers still remember well $4.11 from the summer of 2008, so $3 is not a psychological barrier at all to taking a trip this holiday weekend, in fact this year-end holiday period."

AAA's survey shows the average for gasoline in the U.S. reached $3.01 a gallon on Thursday. Not good news for consumers who are just starting to get some traction as the U.S. economy gains strength.

SOUNDBITE: JACKIE SAPORITO, DRIVER (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"I've taken gas prices into account. It's going to be expensive so I'll just deal with it."

And so are many Americans.

AAA says 92 million people will be on the roads this holiday season, a 3 percent increase from a year ago. They'll also drive quite a bit farther, averaging more than 1,000 miles. One reason Americans are coping better with higher prices is many have traded in their gas guzzling cars.

SOUNDBITE: LIZ FARKAS, DRIVER (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"I just got myself a car that has really good gas mileage, and just going to suck it up."

SOUNDBITE: ROBERT SINCLAIR JR., MANAGER MEDIA RELATIONS, AAA NEW YORK (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"New York we see high prices. San Francisco high prices. Demand is very high. Where demand is high, prices are high."

Also driving up prices: ultra-cold weather. That's stoking demand for crude oil and helping drain U.S. stockpiles at the fastest pace in 12 years. Crude is the major component in gasoline. Oil futures hit a 2-year high Thursday, topping $91 a barrel in New York. Every dollar more for crude, means a few more cents at the pump.

AAA economists say drivers may see $4 a gallon in 2011. So, maybe it's a good thing so many Americans are on the road right now before prices go even higher.

(Reuters)

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