US gas prices rise, ending 98-day streak of declines

US gas prices rose slightly on Wednesday, ending a streak of 98 consecutive days in which costs at the pump had declined, according to the American Automobile Association.

The national average price rose to $3.681 per gallon, up from $3.674 per gallon one day earlier, according to AAA. The increase marked the first time that gas prices rose since June 14, when the cost per gallon hit an all-time high of $5.016.

“All streaks have to end at some point, and the national average for a gallon of gas has fallen $1.34 since its peak in mid-June,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a blog post earlier this week.

“But there are big factors tugging on global oil prices — war, COVID, economic recession, and hurricane season. All this uncertainty could push oil prices higher, likely resulting in slightly higher pump prices,” Gross added.

The 98-day streak of declines was the longest of its kind since 2005. However, prices are still about 50 cents higher than they were one year ago.

Gas prices have hammered US household budgets over the last year.
Getty Images

The Biden administration has taken credit for the prolonged decline in gas prices, which have declined due to weaker demand and downticks in the price of oil as global markets press for a potential worldwide recession. President Biden and others suggested the release of oil from the strategic reserve helped to stabilize prices.

While the declining prices have provided some relief to US households, other sources of inflation, such as food and shelter, have remained uncomfortably high.

There are signs that more pain at the pump could be on the way for American motorists.

Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted there was a “risk” that gas prices would jump this winter as the US and European nations mull a price cap on Russian oil shipments.

“It’s a risk and it’s a risk that we’re working on the price cap to try to address,” Yellen said during an Sept. 11 appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This winter, the European Union will cease, for the most part, buying Russian oil and in addition, they will ban the provision of services that enable Russia to ship oil by tanker. It is possible that could cause a spike in oil prices.”

“Our price cap proposal is designed to both lower Russian revenues that they use to support their economy and fight this illegal war while also maintaining Russian oil supplies to hold down global oil prices,” Yellen added.

Oil prices rose Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a saber-rattling speech in which he announced a partial military mobilization of the country and again threatened to utilize nuclear weapons.

Experts have warned that the Russia-Ukraine war could result in a European energy crisis this week that could reverberate through a global market already struggling to keep pace with demand.

The US oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, rose above $85 per barrel, while the global benchmark Brent Crude topped $91 a barrel.

The market will also be watching closely when the Federal Reserve announces the size of its next rate hike following the conclusion of its meeting Wednesday afternoon. Another sharp hike could lead oil prices to fall again.

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