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Oil tops $109 a barrel

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That pinch you feel when fill up your gas tank is about to hurt even more. Crude oil prices reached a new all-time high Tuesday, more than $109 per barrel. And gas prices followed suit to a new record national average of more than $3.22 a gallon. Economists say oil prices are on the upswing, in part because investors are banking on crude oil as a safe place to stash their cash, amid fears of a US recession. Add to that things like rising food prices. Bear Stearns analyst Conrad Dequadros said, "The increases in these prices eats into consumers disposable income and it reduces the amount of income that's available for other expenditures." Also factoring in to the bad economy are falling home values, a record drop in the value of the dollar and news today that the US trade deficit grew even larger in January. Some analysts say relief may be nowhere in sight, especially when it comes to things like filling up. The Schork Report editor Stephen Schork said, "The betting point is that gasoline prices are going extremely higher from this point on." But the US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is still looking on the bright side. He said Tuesday he believes the long-term economic outlook for the US is still good. And stocks did rally Tuesday after the Federal Reserve, and other central banks, announced plans to pump billions into the financial markets to ease the strain of the credit crisis. Wilmington gas prices are following the national trend. Today's average is $3.21 for regular gas. At the same time last year, it was $2.50.

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