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$3 Per Gallon Gasoline Returns To San Diego County

— The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County surpassed $3 for the first time since June 27 today, rising 2.7 cents to $3.01.

The average price is 15 cents more than a week ago and 6 cents more than a month ago, but $1.12 less than a year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

The average price has risen by at least 1 cent 10 times in the past 11 days.

"Oil industry analysts point to the continued weakness of the dollar, increased crude oil purchases by China, and other signs the economy may be recovering as the reasons behind the increase," said Jeffrey Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The economic downturn had reduced the demand for crude oil, leading to lower prices for both oil and gasoline.

Crude oil costs account for half to three-quarters of the price of a gallon of gasoline, said Tupper Hull, director of strategic communications of the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade association representing major oil companies in six Western states.

The price of a barrel of benchmark crude for September delivery increased 35 cents to $72.29 in early trading today on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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