Gas prices have taken some big jumps in recent weeks, rising an average of about 45 cents since this time last month. There are pumps now pushing past the $5 mark in parts of Southern California, and some speculators are betting the traditional, seasonal spikes could come earlier and faster than normal, with fuel reaching record levels in 2013.
Don’t count the folks at the U.S. Energy Department among them. If anything, the DoE actually anticipates gasoline prices for 2013 will hold flat or even slip a bit, despite recent spikes blamed on speculation and refinery closings.
There are already some signs traders fear they have over-stretched. And the slow and uncertain pace of the economic recovery – along with continuing economic issues in Europe and China – may ease demand that would otherwise drive up petro-speculation.