Gas prices hit 15-month high

Just seven days into the new year, pump prices have surged past 2009 highs as winter storms and a flood of speculative money send oil prices higher.

With the average gallon of gas is now a shade under $2.71, a typical motorist using 50 gallons of fuel a month will pay about $135 a month to fuel up. Last year at this time consumers were paying only about $85 per month.

There are early signs of a recovering economy and job figures due Friday may further that trend, yet consumers have pared way back on energy spending.

It’s not clear how much of an energy burden can be carried with unemployment hovering around 10 percent.

Americans are now spending about $1 billion a day on gasoline with most paying 90 cents to a dollar or more per gallon than they did a year ago.

In less than a month, crude prices have jumped 20 percent and yesterday peaked above last year’s high. That has dragged pump prices to new 15-month highs.

Reporting from the Associated Press.