Gas prices dipped to $3.02 a gallon Tuesday morning, but by lunchtime they suddenly shot up to $3.19 at stations across the area.
Mike Wright, spokesman for the American Automobile Association of America said he was surprised to see prices go up so steeply Tuesday,
"I have no idea why that would be happening," Wright said. "There has been a slight increase in the wholesale price of gas. But nothing that would justify that sort of jump."
Wright said the wholesale cost of gasoline went up three or four cents a gallon from Monday to Tuesday.
"The price we pay for gas today reflects speculation on what people think the cost of oil is going to be next week," Wright said. "So maybe this little bit of upward movement has them convinced that this is the beginning of a move in that direction."
The earlier price reflects the lowest cost for a gallon of gas in the area in 2012. In Missouri, thanks to lower taxes, gas was selling for $2.76 a gallon.
Wright said the price of gas has decreased in recent months because demand is lower in the winter, winter blends of fuel are cheaper and U.S. petroleum production is at its highest level in two decades. And while it's difficult to speculate on what the future holds, he said he is confident that the upward trend isn't the sign of a looming major price hike.
"Until we find out what caused this jump, it's impossible to say exactly where things are going," Wright said. "But I don't think we're headed back to $3.40 or $3.50 a gallon in the immediate future."
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.