DISCOUNT PETROL

CommSec advised consumers to make use of fuel discounts as prices were tipped to keep rising. Photo: Jim Rice

Petrol prices have recorded the fastest increase in four years across the nation, and are likely to continue rising, according to a new report.

Canberra motorists avoided the worst price jumps, the fuel price rising 2.2 cents over the past week to an average price of 157.8 cents per litre, according to the weekly petrol prices report released by the Australian Institute of Petroleum.

It was the second-smallest price rise of all the capital cities behind Darwin, as motorists in Melbourne were hit with a price rise of 6.3 cents.

Canberra was the third most expensive capital, with Sydney the cheapest at 148.4 cents, and Darwin the most expensive at 165.6 cents per litre. The average pump price nationally rose by 2.7 cents to 153.5 cents per litre – a five-month high.

Unleaded fuel in Canberra was more than 3 cents a litre more expensive than the NSW regional average, according to the AIP. In the region, the cheapest fuel was to be found in Goulburn, where the average price was 151.3 cents; Queanbeyan and Batemans Bay were also marginally cheaper than the capital, while Yass was slightly more expensive.

Analysis by CommSec predicted further rises over the coming weeks, as the weak Australian dollar lifted the cost of imported fuel while stronger global demand also pushed prices higher.

“Sustained higher global crude prices and a substantially weaker Aussie dollar - pushing up the cost of imported fuel - are likely to see domestic pump prices rise considerably over the next few weeks. The wholesale price has lifted but 23 cents a litre since the lows while the retail price has risen by 16 cents a litre – suggesting that pump prices will continue to play catch-up over the coming weeks,” CommSec said.

“The concern at present is not only the magnitude of the increase in fuel prices but the short time frame in which it has taken place. In fact the 16 cent increase in pump prices over the past two months marks the fastest increase since early 2009.

“A higher petrol price is bad news for retailers, especially those selling non-essential or discretionary items. If retail spending remains soft, the Reserve Bank will be more inclined to cut interest rates.”

CommSec predicted a 3 cent price rise over the next week, and advised motorists to watch service station signboards, and use discounts where available.