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GASOLINE PRICES AT PUMPS APPEAR TO BE STABILIZING

While prices at the nation's gas pumps rose an average of 1.62 cents a gallon in the past two weeks, the rate of recent increases appears to be slowing down, an oil industry analyst said.

The average price, including taxes, of gasoline for all grades was 137.96 cents per gallon as of Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gasoline stations nationwide. That compares to the average 136.34 cents on April 26.The rate of increase equals the rate in February and is less than half the rates reported in March and April, said Trilby Lundberg, the survey's publisher.

"This is losing steam and it's ending," Lundberg said Sunday. "Crude oil prices are down, and available gasoline supplies are up."

Motorists have seen sharp price increases in recent weeks. But the most recent jump is lower than that reported during the two-week period between April 12 and April 26, when the average national price rose 5 cents.

In California, prices went up 8 cents during that period, compared to less than 3 cents in the most recent survey.

Industry officials have blamed the sharper California increases on factors like the introduction of cleaner-burning, more expensive gasoline required by state regulations. West Coast refineries also have reported slowdowns due to repairs and renovations.

In nearly one-third of the cities surveyed, prices on average were down or unchanged during the past two weeks, she said.

Nationwide at self-serve pumps the average per-gallon price was 131.69 cents for regular unleaded.