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'Spring spike' hits gas pumps

Local gas prices rose by double digits in the past week in response to the annual refinery maintenance season in Southern California, when supplies begin dropping and refineries start producing the more expensive "summer blend" of gasoline, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch.

The state average is $3.669 a gallon for regular as of Thursday -- 7.4 cents more than last week.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego is $3.743, which is 11.3 cents above last week, 8 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents lower than last year.

In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, the average price is $3.736 per gallon, which is 10.4 cents more than last week, 6.3 cents higher than last month, and 45 cents lower than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $3.759, up 11.5 cents from last week, 6.4 cents higher than a month ago, and 41 cents less than last year. In the Inland Empire, the average per-gallon price is $3.717, up 10.8 cents from last week, 5.5 cents more than last month, and 44 cents less than last year.

"Wholesale prices for Los Angeles regular unleaded gasoline haven't been quite this high since mid-September, but the good news for the moment is that they haven't moved much in about the last week," said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. "At current wholesale price levels, pump prices still have some momentum to increase by 15 to 20 cents. But wholesale prices are even more volatile than retail, so that momentum could disappear or increase further. Gas prices are about 40 cents lower than this time last year."

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