Gasoline prices have increased 9.5 cents per gal. nationwide in the last month to average $1.215 per gallon, according to American Automobile Assn.'s (AAA) Fuel Gauge Report. The price is the highest since November 8 and most of the increase occurred in the last two weeks, AAA said.

The rapid run-up in gasoline prices has been triggered by government announcements that the U.S. is no longer in recession and industry predictions that some blends of reformulated gasoline, not required at gas pumps until June 1, may be in short supply again this summer, the report said.

Middle East tension also has pushed crude oil prices to near $24 per barrel. However, the price is well below the $28 per barrel price it was a year ago.

Gas prices in the Great Lakes states and the Midwest have increased the most, up 14.9 cents per gallon and 11.7 cents per gallon, respectively to $1.261 per gallon and $1.232 per gallon. The average gasoline price is up 11 cents in the West to $1.299.