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TAX PREVENTED DROP IN COST OF GAS, AAA SAYS

An increase in the federal gasoline tax pushed up prices at the pump when they otherwise would have dropped, the American Automobile Association said Tuesday.

In its weekly survey, AAA found the average nationwide retail price for a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded was up 2.1 cents at $1.387 per gallon. It was just .1 cent less than the AAA's highest recorded price of $1.388 per gallon just before the Easter holiday in 1981.

Self-serve unleaded had risen 31.2 cents a gallon since Aug. 1, the day before Iraq invaded Kuwait and threw world oil markets into a state of chaos, AAA said.

AAA said gasoline prices would probably have fallen for the week without the imposition of an additional 5.1-cent per gallon tax that took effect Saturday. The average pump price was up in all regions, AAA said.

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