Average gas pump prices across the country rose to within a dime of $4 a gallon Friday, as weather-related refinery outages tightened supplies and pushed up prices.
The national average increased 2 cents, to nearly $3.91 a gallon for regular gasoline. That's the highest level since July 31, 2008. Three years ago, as oil was on its way to a record $147 a barrel, the average price of gas was $3.61 on April 29. It hit $3.90 on May 24 and peaked at $4.11 on July 17 before heading down again.
Economic data released Friday show gas prices are impacting consumer spending patterns. The Commerce Department reported that personal income rose 0.5 percent and consumer spending was up 0.6 percent in March.
"The increase in ... spending was swallowed up by higher gasoline and food prices," said IHS Global Insight economist Chris Christopher. "This report is good news since it shows that consumers are plowing ahead despite rising gasoline and food prices. The bad news is that consumer spending adjusted for inflation has lost the momentum it had in the last quarter of 2010," he said.
How these rising prices will impact the anime conventions this summer is still unknown.Some economists think lower gas prices could encourage consumer spending in other areas, although the high unemployment rate will keep the economic recovery in low gear this year.