The final days of 2016 are bringing the highest gas prices of the year.
The average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded in the Bradenton-Sarasota area hit $2.35 on Thursday, the highest since the fall of 2015, according to AAA.
At the end of 2015, area motorists were paying an average of $1.97 per gallon.
Analysts blame the sudden spike – the average in Bradenton-Sarasota was $2.28 on Tuesday – on two things: higher oil prices and an increase in holiday travel.
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“The wholesale price of gasoline on the Gulf Coast is up 16 cents a gallon in the last week,” said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst with Gasbuddy.com
Prices are up 32 cents in the past month and are about 5 cents higher than the national average of $2.30 per gallon.
The jump comes as crude oil prices reached nearly $54 a barrel in trading Thursday and a few weeks after OPEC countries, Russia and other oil producer promised to cut production. A year ago oil was trading for about $38 a barrel and producers struggling with a glut of supply from low demand.
Also, AAA predicted last week that year-end holiday travel would hit an all-time high with 103 million people planning car trips.