NEW YORK - More gas and oil records fell Monday as retail fuel prices struck highs and crude settled above $127 for the first time, tightening the squeeze on drivers planning holiday road trips next weekend.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery jumped 76 cents to settle at a record $127.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices rallied at one point to within a nickel of Friday’s record trading high near $128 a barrel.
Meanwhile, Americans are now paying an average of $3.79 for a gallon of regular gas, according to a survey by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Diesel, used to transport a wide range of goods, now costs $4.52 a gallon. Those prices, both records, are likely to keep rising, following crude’s upward track.
“We’re looking at $4 a gallon (for regular nationwide) once we get past Memorial Day and into June, given the oil prices we’re seeing today,” said Geoff Sundstrom, fuel price analyst at AAA.
In Pittsburgh, some drivers said they had been forced to adjust their spending habits because of higher prices at the pump, which are up about 17 percent from a peak at this time last year.
Rose Bonesso said the rising cost of gas has “hugely” affected her spending, and that she was trying to make fewer car trips from her suburban home.
“I definitely think a lot more before I either go to Starbucks or do anything like that because I know, all right, I’ve got at least $40 to $45 I’ve got to put in my tank this week,” she said while buying gas on Pittsburgh’s South Side.
Drivers in some parts of the country are already paying considerably more than the average. Prices in parts of California have been above $4 a gallon for weeks now, although the statewide average is down to $3.96.
The AAA said Alaska had the most expensive gasoline on a statewide basis, at $4.05 a gallon, followed by Connecticut at $4.03, Illinois at $3.979 and New York at $3.978. The lowest statewide average was $3.59 in Arizona.
Those soaring prices — which compare with a national average of about $3.23 a year ago — are putting a strain on family finances and prompting some motorists to seek alternatives.
Jeanne Prows of West Chester, Ohio, said she and her husband are considering riding to work together to save gas.
In New Haven, Conn., drivers paid $4.05 for regular unleaded gas Monday.
Stacey Holmes, a teacher who lives and works in New Haven, said high prices recently led her to buy a bicycle for $20 so she can ride the three miles to work to save money.
“It just makes you a lot more aware of your budget,” Holmes said.
Sally Richmond, a paralegal from New Haven, said she’s “a little angry, confused” at the gas prices.
A report released Sunday showed retail prices topped an average $4 a gallon for the first time in two metropolitan areas: Chicago and New York’s Long Island. The Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide found the cheapest city was Tucson, where a gallon of regular sold for $3.48 on average.
Oil prices shot higher Monday on a report that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would not increase production before its next meeting Sept. 9.
Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil, the current OPEC president, was quoted in government newspaper El Moudjahid as saying that “current prices aren’t linked to the law of supply and demand.”