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NEW YORK (AP) – With the price of gas above $3.50 a gallon in nearly the entire country, and $3.70 a gallon in the Wilmington area, there are signs that Americans are cutting back on driving.

It marks a turnaround from a steady increase in demand for fuel as the economy improved.

According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks spending at 140,000 service stations, gas sales have fallen for five weeks in a row.

Before that, demand had increased for two months. And some analysts had expected the trend to continue, what with the 216,000 jobs that were added in March.

Instead, according to a March survey by the Oil Price Information Service, about 70 percent of the nation’s major gas-station chains say sales have fallen.

This year, gas prices have shot up as unrest in North Africa and the Middle East rattled energy markets.

A gallon of unleaded regular costs $3.77 on average, and only Wyoming has an average lower than $3.50. Most analysts are sticking to forecasts of a high of $4 a gallon, though some have predicted $5 gas.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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