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2013 sees first 10-cent weekly gas price spike

Southern California gas prices posted their first double-digit weekly increase of 2013 in response to wholesale prices spiking 50 cents in the previous week, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch. The state average is $3.764 a gallon for regular on Friday -- 11.3 cents higher than last week.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego is $3.820, 10.9 cents above last week, 21 cents above last month, and 5 cents higher than last year.

In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, the price is $3.849 per gallon, which is 10 cents more than last week, 23 cents higher than last month, and 6 cents higher than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $3.816, up 8 cents from last week, 17 cents higher than a month ago, and four-tenths of a cent less than last year. In the Inland Empire, the average per-gallon price is $3.805, up 10.3 cents from last week, 22 cents higher than last month, and 4 cents less than last year.

"The usual culprits are being listed as reasons for the spike -- high oil prices, Middle East tension, local refinery incidents and refineries being brought down for maintenance as they prepare to produce the summer blend of gasoline," said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. "But perhaps equally if not more importantly, say oil industry analysts, financial market managers see refined gasoline as a 'sure bet' for their clients' portfolios. Big investment money is flowing earlier and earlier into gasoline trading, ahead of the usual 'spring spike.' Southern California is a particularly vulnerable market for shortages because it has no inexpensive alternatives if local refinery production is down, and traders are aware of this."

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