NEW YORK Rising gasoline prices tightened the squeeze on drivers Monday, jumping for the first time to an average $3.50 a gallon at filling stations across the nation, with no sign of relief.
Crude oil set a record for the sixth day in a row this time closing above $117 a barrel after an attack on a Japanese oil tanker in the Middle East rattled investors.
Diesel prices at the pump also struck a record high of $4.20 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. That's sure to add to truckers' costs and drive up the price of food, clothing and other goods shipped by truck.
"You and I are going to pay more," said Bob Costello, chief economist of American Trucking Associations. "Exactly how much...I can't tell you, but it's got to show up."
Gasoline and diesel prices are expected to keep climbing as they trace the path of crude. Oil prices are charging ahead along with a host of commodities that are enticing speculators seeking hedges against a weakening dollar.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose to a record $117.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange before settling at $117.48, up 79 cents from Friday's close.
Gas jumped more than a nickel over the weekend and is up 23 percent from a year ago. Drivers in New Jersey are paying the least, while drivers in California pay the most, $3.86 a gallon for regular unleaded.
Crude oil rose Monday after the 150,000-ton tanker Takayama was attacked off the coast of Yemen as it headed for Saudi Arabia, its Japanese operator, Nippon Yusen K.K., said.
An OPEC official also said over the weekend that the group was not likely to increase production. The official said oil prices would likely rise and said OPEC might boost production if the price pressure was because of a supply shortage, something he doubted.