Shortages in East, Midwest raise new red flags on rising gas prices

At-the-pump fuel costs leveled off in Sacramento last week, but there is no rest for the weary when it comes to gasoline prices.

First, overheated speculation in crude oil markets drove up gas prices in the winter, a time of typically declining prices. Then, unrest in the Middle East sent prices higher still this spring.

On Monday, a new red flag went up: declining stocks of motor gasoline and gasoline blending components in the Midwest and East.

This latest complication comes as soaring gasoline prices are increasingly on the minds of Americans trying to dig their way out of a stubborn recession.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday showed that gas prices already are affecting U.S. household incomes and changing Americans' driving habits.

The declining supply of gasoline was cited as the primary culprit as prices soared in the Midwest and East in recent weeks.

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