Gas prices close the year on a high note across San Diego County - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Gas prices close the year on a high note across San Diego County

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County ended 2010 at the highest amount for a Dec. 31, increasing one-tenth of a cent Friday to $3.333.

Eight increases in nine days boosted the average price to its highest amount since Oct. 16, 2008, and 3.2 cents more than a week ago, 18.7 cents more than a month ago and 36.3 cents more than this time last year, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

Prices are traditionally lower in the winter than the spring or summer because of less demand. The San Diego County record price of $4.63 was set on June 19, 2008.

"Higher crude oil prices continue to drive fuel prices to new heights after a year that saw remarkably stable averages between $2.90 and $3.10 for most of 2010," said Jeffrey Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Crude oil costs account for two-thirds to three-quarters of the price of a gallon of gasoline, according to Tupper Hull, vice president of strategic communications for the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade association representing oil companies in six western states.

The price of a barrel of benchmark crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange reached its highest point since Oct. 3, 2008 on Dec. 23, then began dropping, including declining $1.28 to $89.84 Thursday.

Analysts say the higher oil prices are the result of anticipated increased demand because of an improved economy, demonstrated by five consecutive months of increased consumer spending.

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