Oil prices continued their steady rise this week. After opening Monday morning at just a tick below $100, crude oil prices finished the week at $103.53 a barrel – a hefty 4% gain. The price of oil has now surged 12% in the past six weeks.
Tensions with Iran, rising demand from developing nations and the economic turmoil in Europe have all contributed to the rising oil prices. Whatever the reason, Americans are paying the price for it – literally – at the pump. And that could further stunt the U.S. economy’s growth.
Various oil experts have been weighing in with predictions that gas prices could reach $5 a gallon by Memorial Day. If so, that would go a long way toward convincing Americans to tighten their belts in other areas and slowing the economic recovery. When the price of oil gets too high, like it may in the coming months, stocks typically go the other way.
The current national average for a gallon of regular fuel is $3.52. Last year gas prices posted their highest average ever in the U.S. at $3.51 a gallon. With Iran, the world’s third-largest oil exporter, threatening to withhold oil deliveries and block the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil flow, oil prices may continue to rise.
If that happens, Americans may soon be longing for the days of $3.51 a gallon.