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Demand blamed for rise in Md. gasoline prices


Maryland gas prices have risen a penny a gallon since August and are up nearly 8 cents since July, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The trend breaks with a tradition of prices declining at the end of the summer travel season. The increases are due to a combination of strong demand in August and record low inventories, AAA said.

Maryland motorists are paying an average of $1.268 per gallon for regular self-serve unleaded, up from $1.255 in August, according to an AAA survey of 30 stations in counties excluding Charles, Prince George's and Montgomery.

"Demand is stronger than marketers forecasted," said Joe Coale, a spokesman for Baltimore-based Crown Central Petroleum Corp. "I think there's a confidence in the economy. Interest rates are staying where they are and people tend to be more relaxed in how they spend disposable income. Some of that spills over into driving."

Increasingly popular sports utility vehicles require more gasoline, he said.

Another reason is that supplies are tighter than they've been in the past. "The domestic refining business is at capacity," Coale said.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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