Gas Prices Just Shy of $3 as Christmas Nears

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The national average price for a gallon of gas will almost certainly rise above $3 -- that critical psychological level -- for the holiday week, media and consumer analysts predict. Prices have continued to inch up, reaching $2.984 Thursday, according to the AAA, which surveyed as many as 100,000 gas stations.

The cost of a gallon is still well below the $4.114 that it hit hit on July 17, 2008. But the consumer had a different level of confidence then. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was nearly 14,000. Belief in a strong economy was high. And it would take another three months before the credit crisis unfolded and the stock market plunged.

It may not be clear until early next year whether drivers change their patterns and cut back on travel. But filling the tank is a big enough portion of monthly expenses in many households that $3 gas is not just a media headline.
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