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Florida gas prices rise as tensions with Middle East heighten

State gas prices rose as expected following higher oil prices last week, but political tension could push them further.

Tensions in the Middle East are starting to hit the wallets of motorists in the United States.

According to AAA, the Auto Club Group, Florida gas prices averaged $2.53 a gallon Monday, up 7 cents over the week, while Tampa Bay prices averaged $2.51 per gallon, up 10 cents over the week.

The current hike was expected because of higher oil prices last week, AAA said. But the late-week announcement that the US killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani sent crude oil prices spiking at more than $70 a barrel for the first time in three months , according to the Associated Press.

“Even though the US is producing oil at a record pace, that oil is bought and sold on the stock market, which is heavily influenced by global supply and demand,” Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, said. “Crude prices rise when there’s a threat of war, because of concerns over how the conflict could hamper supply and demand.”

It’s too early to know what the longer term effect of the tensions will be on gas prices, Jenkins said, but more clarity is expected by mid-week.