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Dayton Business Journal...
Gas prices may crack $4 by spring

by Laura Englehart
Wednesday, January 4, 2012 

With the average fuel price at $3.29 per gallon nationwide, drivers could pay more than $4 per gallon for fuel when prices peak in the spring and summer months, analysts say. 

While prices have fallen in recent months, the current average is 22 cents more than the price a year ago of $3.07 per gallon. In the past seven years, fuel prices have peaked 93 cents to $1.31 higher than where prices started that year, said Greg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for 

That means average prices nationwide could hit $4 or even $4.38 per gallon this year. 

In Dayton, the price Jan. 1, 2011 was $3.09 per gallon. That increased $1.07 per gallon by May 3, when prices peaked. In previous years, the price has topped out at 53 cents (2010), 106 cents (2009), 111 cents (2008), and 123 cents (2007) higher than where it started that year. 

The current average fuel price in the Dayton-Springfield metropolitan area is $3.33 per gallon, up 5 cents from a week ago and 13 cents from a month ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the first trading day of 2012, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil increased $4.13 to settle at $102.96 — the highest settlement price since May 10. 

“A growing global economy is expected to demand more crude oil, which pressures prices higher, as does the possibility of future disruptions to global supply,” said Avery Ash, AAA federal relations manager. 

Trucking firms are especially sensitive to the spikes and the Dayton region has a booming trucking hub because of its location near the intersection of Interstates 75 and 70. Arkansas Best Corp.    has 630 workers in Dayton, while many other large trucking firms also have local operations. 

Transportation is such as large focus of the local region’s economy that Southwest Ohio is home to operations of more than 450 of the Fortune 500, according to the state. 

Larger shipping firms, including United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., have operations locally that feel the sting of rising gas prices. FedEx is expanding its local distribution center in Vandalia and adding 25 workers. Currently the company operates in a 119,000-square-foot distribution center, which has grown to nearly 140 employees. 

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