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Gas prices climbing — again

Despite the recession, an oversupply of oil and falling demand for fuel, gasoline prices have continued to climb, reaching a year high locally of $2.68 for a gallon of regular.

This series of facts would ordinarily produce the opposite effect, at least according to every economic theory I’ve ever read.

But apparently Wall Street investors are ignoring the whole “supply and demand” theory and are investing heavily into crude oil futures, the main ingredient in gasoline.

This speculative investing is based on the belief that the efforts of world governments to stimulate the economy with billions of dollars in investments is going to work and the global economy will rebound.

Even though economic indicators such as unemployment seem to indicate otherwise, this speculation has caused the price of gasoline to shoot through the roof, seemingly overnight.

The price of petrol has jumped more than 45 cents in the last month.

Yes, I know it’s not as bad as the $4.19 a gallon we were paying a year ago at this time. But I’m tired of paying more for gasoline because speculators drive the cost up on a hunch. Half the reason why gasoline prices were so high last summer was the result of speculative investing.

If folks have to spend more on gasoline they are going to spend less on other items, including vacations in Las Vegas, and that’s not going to help the economy recover.

And the price should go up even more as we enter the summer months. The price for a barrel of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed above $72 Friday.

If you don’t have extra cash to run out and buy a hybrid, there’s still some ways you can save on fuel costs. Edmunds.com, an online resource for automotive information, tested six ways to cut down on fuel consumption.

• There’s the “Chill out Kyle” theory: In a test of aggressive driving versus moderate driving, Edmunds found moderate driving can result in up to 37 percent savings; the average savings was 31 percent.

• Slow down Junior: Lower speeds saves fuel, 12 percent on average.

• Control your cruising: On average, using cruise control saves 7 percent.

• Stay cool Joe: There’s no difference in gasoline savings whether your windows are up and air conditioning is on, or if the AC is off and your windows are down. So enjoy the cool air, guilt free.

• Tire pressure test: Actually, tire pressure doesn’t matter, at least when it comes to fuel savings. But it’s still really important when it comes to safety and reducing wear on your vehicle.

• Excessive idling — it’s just bad: If you’re waiting longer than a minute, shut down your engine. You could save up to 19 percent.

There are other things you can do to cut down on fuel consumption, including car pooling to work, taking the bus, riding a bicycle, or walking.

But if you are going to use your car, consider planning out the route for your shopping trips in advance.

Take advantage of discounts. Some supermarkets that have service stations offer discounts on gasoline if you shop for goods in their stores.

And be a frugal consumer. Take advantage of Web sites that list the lowest gasoline prices — I prefer www.vegasgasprices.com.

Who knows? If you follow these tips, you might save enough to buy your own barrel of crude oil.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call the Road Warrior at 702-387-2904, or e-mail him at roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.

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