Maryland gas prices up 16 cents since Oct. 1

Maryland gas prices, which remained stable through most of the summer and into September, have jumped 16 cents since the beginning of October to a statewide average of $2.79 for a gallon of unleaded, AAA Mid-Atlantic reports.

The increase is steeper that the 14-cent rise reported nationally since Oct. 1, though Maryland prices still lag the U.S. average by 4 cents.

According to AAA, the gas price increase has tracked the rise in the price of crude oil on world markets to more than $80 a barrel. AAA also called the recent weakness of the dollar "perhaps the strongest factor contributing to recent growth."

Ragina Averella, Maryland spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said prices in the state peaked at $2.90 on May 6. But fears that Marylanders would see a return of $3-a-gallon gas didn't materialize — except in certain high-price markets — and prices fell to as low as $2.58 around Labor Day.

Friday's $2.79 average was 34 cents higher than a year ago, but $1.28 behind the levels of this time in 2008, when prices broke through the $4 barrier.

Averella said most oil industry analysts do not expect to see dramatic increases over the rest of the year — "barring any significant events."

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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