Market factors influence the price of gasoline. This is actually news to some.

Gasoline-price increases in the spring and summer of 2006 were not the result of antitrust violations by oil companies or refiners, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

“The 2006 price increases were caused by a confluence of factors reflecting the normal operation of the market,” the commission said in a report today to President George W. Bush.

Those factors included higher prices for crude oil and ethanol, greater demand for fuel during the summer driving season as well as lingering refinery outages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Reduced capacity while refinery owners switched to using ethanol as a fuel additive also contributed. …

“The FTC has looked at the same phenomenon, which occurs almost every year, year after year, and they get the same result,” said Joseph Simons, former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

“Why people think it’s going to come out any different the next time is unclear,” said Simons, now a partner with the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. “It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The source is Bloomberg.

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