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Pump price hike blamed on stock market

Latest figures have shown a 5p hike over the last month.

As Northern Ireland motorists continue to pay the highest pump prices in the UK, a motoring organisation has blamed stock market speculation on the latest surge in petrol prices.

Friday, 22 February 2013
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After surging 5p a litre over a month, the price of petrol at the pumps has gone up a further 1p in the last five days, the AA said.

It revealed that the average cost of petrol in the UK is now 138.32p a litre, with diesel having risen 4.78p from its mid-January price to stand at an average of 145.10p.

Prices are highest for both petrol and diesel in Northern Ireland, with an average price of 138.7p per litre for petrol and 145.2p per litre for diesel.

Last month the Office of Fair Trading ruled out a full investigation into the UK fuel market after it deemed high prices were due to taxes and the cost of crude oil.

The competition watchdog's report found that prices in NI were higher due to the lower volumes of fuel sold and lower prevalence of supermarket chains driving prices down.

AA president Edmund King warned that drivers are struggling to cope with the latest surge in fuel prices.

"We're no longer talking of the motorist as a cash cow for tax and speculator greed, but a horse slowly but surely being flogged to death," he said.

"This is the third 10p-a-litre wholesale price surge in 11 months, given extra vigour by currency speculators betting against the pound."

The AA chief called for Chancellor George Osborne to reflect the impact of fuel price inflation in the forthcoming Budget.

Mr King said: "Although we had a disruptive period of snow between January 18 and 25, the impact of the weather was nothing like that suffered during the January of 2010.

"The blame for this latest collapse in petrol sales rests squarely with stock market speculation."

NI Independent Retail Trade Association Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said the rise in the average cost of petrol is a cause of major concern to the local retail sector.

He reiterated the call for the Chancellor Osborne to address the issue in the Budget.

"Increasing petrol prices puts more pressure on hardworking families and therefore more strain on disposable income resulting in less spending in local shops," he said.

"Additionally, increased fuel costs puts a further burden on our members who have their own transport essential for the running of their businesses.

"The retail sector ends up squeezed between reduced consumer spend and increased fuel bills making it harder for them to remain competitive."