L.A. motorists endured a fifth consecutive week of price increases at the pump as speculators went on a buying spree, bidding up gasoline prices on the expectation they will be higher this spring, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The average price for regular self-serve unleaded gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area soared 8.1 cents to $2.590 on Friday from $2.509 one week ago. Last Friday, they edged up 5.9 cents. The price was $2.207 per gallon one month ago and $2.099 one year prior. Prices haven't hit a new record high since Sept. 6.

"The relationship between supply and demand is relatively balanced in California, so normally we should see stable prices," said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. "However, speculators in oil and gasoline markets have kept prices high, and that has filtered down to local gas pumps. The trend for higher gas prices is expected to continue for the next several weeks."

The Orange County area had the lowest average price in Southern California, climbing 6.8 cents to $2.547. The Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc area had the highest gas price, rising 7.3 cents to $2.734.

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline each Friday.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.