By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – The first survey of local gasoline prices in 2012 put Rhode Island prices an average of 3 cents higher this week, according to AAA Southern New England.
The auto club’s Jan. 3 survey found the average price of self-serve, regular, unleaded gasoline at $3.36 per gallon, 3 cents higher than last week and 8 cents above the national average. A year ago, prices at the pump stood at $3.16. The range in prices Tuesday was $3.26 to $3.60. In Massachusetts, the average price of gas was $3.30, up 5 cents from last week.
Bloomberg News reported heating oil rose the most in five months after China’s manufacturing activity expanded, indicating fuel demand may increase, and the U.S. currency weakened, boosting the appeal of commodities as an investment.
Futures gained as much as 3.9 percent as China’s purchasing managers’ index climbed to 50.3 in December from 49 in November, the Beijing-based logistics federation said Jan. 1. A number above 50 indicates expansion. The dollar fell as much as 1 percent against the euro.
“There’s been good Chinese and Indian manufacturing data” supporting oil and products, said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn. A weaker dollar is also a factor in stronger prices, he said.
February-delivery heating oil gained 10.78 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $3.022 a gallon at 10:45 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices rose the most since July 7 and touched $3.0285, the highest intraday level in almost four weeks.
Prices also increased on speculation that the closing of three refineries in Europe will boost demand for shipments of diesel from the U.S.
French workers at Petroplus Holdings AG’s Petit Couronne refinery in Normandy are continuing to block deliveries of fuel products in a protest against a decision to suspend production at the plant.
Nicolas Vincent, a spokesman for the CGT union, said there will be a meeting tomorrow with other unions to discuss widening the strike to other plants. Petroplus is shutting units at the 161,800-barrel-a-day Petit Couronne refinery today, he said.
Gasoline for February delivery rose 7.37 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $2.7311 a gallon, Bloomberg reported.
At stations in Rhode Island this week, the survey found average self-serve prices of $3.55 per gallon for midgrade unleaded, $3.69 for premium unleaded gasoline and $3.91 for diesel.