As Economy Improves, Gas Prices Go Up

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Finance professor Ron Rizutto says demand is increasing, so inventories have been getting tighter. On top of that, he says, oil-producing nations are curtailing supply a bit in order to push up the prices.


NPR's business news starts with gas prices creeping up.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: That is typical this time of the year, as more people head out for road trips. The average price across the country is around $2.40 per gallon. As NPR's Jeff Brady reports it looks like prices will continue to slowly increase over the summer.

JEFF BRADY: After last year and gas at $4 a gallon, it's difficult to get too worked up about the rise in recent weeks. Ron Rizutto says there are several reasons for the increase. He's a finance professor at the University of Denver, where he keeps a close eye on the oil industry. Rizutto says demand is increasing as the economy starts to improve, so inventories have been getting tighter.

Professor RON RIZUTTO (Finance, University of Denver): The other part is, you know, the OPEC nations, the producing countries, they're curtailing supply a bit in order to push up the prices.

BRADY: U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to meet with OPEC members later this week to encourage them not to tighten supplies so much that it prompts another price spike. Still when Professor Rizutto pulls out his crystal ball, he suggests now is a good time to take that long road trip.

Prof. RIZUTTO: You know, sooner is better than later. We're in for a steady increase in oil prices over the long term here.

BRADY: Rizutto says that'll be especially true if inflation creeps up, because that'll prompt speculation which likely will lead to higher prices for all commodities.

Jeff Brady, NPR News.

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