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      Gas prices increase as crude oil prices surge

      The freefall at the pump halted this week, as gas prices in the D.C. metro area and nationwide went up for the first time in eight weeks.

      A surge in crude oil prices over the past week bumped the national average for a gallon of gasoline up six cents to $3.63, according to AAA.

      A commensurate increase in the price of a gallon occurred in the greater Washington area as well, going up to $3.66 from $3.60 since last Sunday.

      AAA says that drivers have no reason to panic that gas will begin to scrape at $4/gallon again.

      "Prices at the pump began to creep up slightly this week as a result of higher crude oil prices, which were in response to improved economic data," said AAA spokesman John B. Townsend.

      Crude oil prices went up by about a dollar and a half this week, settling at $96.20/barrel at week's end.