Oil topped one hundred dollars a barrel for the first time today and gas prices are almost certain to follow. Some analysts are predicting pump prices will rise to $3.50 a gallon in a matter of months. In the energy markets, oil prices are spiking. At the pump, little change. Gas prices are up a penny this month -- down from May. But experts say that higher oil prices will likely lead to higher gas prices -- increasing the risks of higher prices across the economy. Oppenheimer & Co. oil analyst Fadel Gheit said, "We are going to see rising prices. Rising food prices, rising transportation costs, with the airline gasoline all those things. But the biggest impact is going to be immediate and basically is going to be home heating bills." A spike at the pump could happen in just three weeks. Mark Zandi of www.economy.com says if oil prices remain at $90 dollars a barrel by next spring, gas prices will rise to a record $3.50 a gallon. That will coincide with another blow the economy is taking – less consumer spending because of the housing crisis. Those two factors together will drag down the economy, and possibly push it into recession. "Higher oil prices can be tolerated by the economy to a certain extent, but not forever. Eventually the economy is going to get derailed by higher oil prices. The question is not if, it's when." Here's how we're faring at the pump locally. In the Wilmington metro area a gallon of regular costs about $2.83 a gallon. That's a sharp contrast from last year, when a gallon was just $2.15. We're just about on par with the rest of the state, at $2.84 a gallon. A year ago the state average was $2.17 a gallon.
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