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Government boosts forecast for pump prices

7:01 PM, Feb. 12, 2013  |  Comments
Experts predicted that gas prices nationwide would drop this year. However, they acknowledged that certain factors, such as natural disasters and unrest in the Middle East, could lead to higher prices. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images The nozzle of a gas pump pumps fule into a car at a gas station in Alhambra, east of downtown Los Angeles, on October 10, 2012 in California, where the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to an all-time high earlier this week, prompting calls for a federal investigation into the price spike. AFPHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages)
Experts predicted that gas prices nationwide would drop this year. However, they acknowledged that certain factors, such as natural disasters and unrest in the Middle East, could lead to higher prices. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images The nozzle of a gas pump pumps fule into a car at a gas station in Alhambra, east of downtown Los Angeles, on October 10, 2012 in California, where the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to an all-time high earlier this week, prompting calls for a federal investigation into the price spike. AFPHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages)
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The government is boosting its forecast for gasoline prices this year following an 11-percent increase since the middle of December.

Pump prices should average $3.55 a gallon in 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. That's up 11 cents from EIA's forecast in January and would be the second-highest annual average ever, after last year's $3.63 a gallon.

The national average was $3.61 on Monday, the EIA says. It was $3.25 on Dec. 17.

The EIA primarily pins the increase on higher oil prices. Brent crude, the benchmark for many international varieties of oil imported to the U.S., rose $10 a barrel from mid-December to early February. That equates to about 24 cents per gallon of gas, the EIA says.

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