U.S. business tired of oil shocks

Gasoline prices already were high before a wave of unrest swept across the Middle East and North Africa, creating a volatile market for crude oil.

Now it looks like America could see a return of $4-a-gallon gas, a price that helped weaken the economy in 2008 and could stifle hopes for a strong recovery this year. High gasoline prices hurt companies in two ways: They raise business costs, and they leave customers with less money to buy other things.

"Higher oil prices act as a tax on disposable income," said William Dudley, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

They also could lead airlines to raise fares and force delivery services to increase fuel surcharges. Trucking companies will make less money, not only because diesel fuel will be more expensive, but also because they will have less freight to haul as consumers reduce spending on other goods in order to fill up their gas tanks.

Read more in the Pittsburgh Business Times.

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