(AP) - You may be paying more than ever for a late-summer drive.
U.S. drivers are paying an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That's the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578.
More daily highs are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison,gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011. Kloza and other analysts expect prices to start dropping after Labor Day, barring a hurricane or other unforeseen event.
Retail gasoline prices have risen nearly 12 percent since July 1 because of higher oil prices, and problems with refineries and pipelines that created temporary supply shortages in some regions. An increase in the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, also contributed to the rise in pump prices.
The pace of the increases has slowed considerably, however. Gas rose 19 cents in the two weeks ended Wednesday. It's up just 1 penny in the five days since. Gas costs about 26 cents more than a month ago and 14 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express.
A few drivers are catching a break. Retail prices were lower than this date in 2011in four states — Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.
In trading in New York, oil futures fell on concerns about Europe's economy. European leaders are beginning a series of discussions that could determine Greece's future and the stability of the 17 countries that use the euro.
Benchmark oil dropped 32 cents to $95.70 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 12 cents to $113.83 per barrel in London.
Other futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
— Heating oil increased 1 cent to $3.10 per gallon.
— Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $3.05 per gallon.
— Natural gas rose 3 cents to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.