That bit of relief at the gas pump appears to be ending.
After a war-induced spike in prices in late February and early March, things had started to improve. But as the chart below shows, the national average for a gallon of gas is now ticking back up, caught in a tug-of-war between competing market forces. The average for a gallon of unleaded was $4.13 Tuesday, only 20 cents shy of the record high it reached last month, according to data from AAA.
Fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered the spike, as Western sanctions on oil from Russia, one of the world's largest exporters, threatened to disrupt global supplies of oil and things made from it. The U.S. announced it would release oil from its strategic reserves, helping deflate prices a bit, but the downward trend ended earlier this month and recent prices have been stuck well above their pre-war levels.
The price of oil, now hovering around $100 a barrel, has been up and down amid opposing market forces, according to an analysis by AAA. On the one hand, investors are concerned about the scarcity of oil due to the war in Ukraine. On the other, there’s fear that a new round of COVID-19 lockdowns in China will slow economic activity and reduce demand for fuel.
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