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Gas prices staying down as 2013 starts

NEW YORK — U.S. drivers are hoping 2013 doesn't start off like 2012 at the gas pump. So far, so good.

Gasoline now averages $3.30 a gallon, up about half a penny since Jan. 1. A year ago, gas rose about 10 cents in the first week or so because of a jump in oil prices, and it nearly hit $4 in early April.

Oil prices should dictate what happens next with pump prices. Economic factors affecting oil are mixed — economies in the U.S. and China are showing modest improvement, while Europe remains in recession.

The wild card is the Middle East. In the past two years, threats to shipments of oil from the region drove crude prices higher during the winter. That led to a surge in pump prices by spring.

On Monday benchmark crude rose 7 cents to $93.16 a barrel in New York. Brent crude dropped 10 cents to $111.21 in London.


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