07/21/06 — Distributor: Gas prices could hit weekend highs

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Distributor: Gas prices could hit weekend highs

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 21, 2006 1:47 PM

A gasoline distributor expects gas prices to go up on weekends because of uncertainty about world events, but AAA doesn't expect the fluctuations in the price of fuel to be significant.

Demand for gasoline is up in the U.S., Europe and China, and supply is tight, said Judson Pope of E.J. Pope and Son. Traders are in control of the market, and Pope has seen some big swings, as much as 8 cents one day and down 5 cents another day.

"Trading prices seem to go up on Fridays, since traders don't want to be caught short in case something political happens on a weekend," he said.

Traders speculate on factors like the Iraq war, hurricane season, the Lebanon-Israel conflict and the North Korean missile crisis -- all events that might put a premium price on already tight supplies.

Roller coaster prices don't make distributors happy, either.

"Retailers don't like it because the higher the price goes, the more in credit card fees we pay, the more we have tied up in inventory, the more drive-offs we have, and the more upset our customers are," Pope said.

Sarah Davis with the automobile association in Charlotte said consumers have been dealing with a lot of twists and turns in the market. She said she thinks the market is stabilizing.

She said the prices haven't spiked much lately and the state average price hasn't changed that much from last year. Last year's average gas price was $2.89, while Tuesday's average was $2.92.

"Crude oil prices are a main part of that," she said. "There will be increases, but not like 4 and 5 cents like we saw a few months ago."