TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gas prices increased in New Jersey and around the nation at large amid a continued increase in crude oil prices and despite a drop in consumer demand.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $3.38, up a penny from last week. Drivers were paying an average of $2.54 a gallon a year ago at this time.

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The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.32, up two cents from last week. Drivers were paying $2.39 a gallon on average a year ago at this time.

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Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, attributes the oil price increase to “global economic optimism, whether well-founded or not, that the worst of COVID may soon be behind us.” She said the dip in demand is likely due to winter weather and the pandemic, but if crude prices continue to climb gas prices will probably follow suit.

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