Crude and gasoline. Untold damage being done to the economy because of it. Inventories still way up, demand still very low. Obvioulsy demand and inventory levels have nothing to do with the price of crude and gasoline. Should not those factors be the only relevant issue when pricing these commodities? Mark Williams, AP Energy Writer, On Wednesday April 28, 2010, 3:23 pm Oil prices broke their two-day losing streak Wednesday, even after a government report said that crude supplies in the U.S. continued to grow. At the same time, retail gasoline prices hit an 18-month high. Benchmark crude for May delivery rose 78 cents to settle at $83.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline pump prices rose 1.1 cents per gallon overnight to a national average of $2.869, the highest since October 2008, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Prices have climbed 6.9 cents in the past month and are 82.1 cents higher than a year ago. Retail gasoline prices have risen as refineries produce more expensive summer blends of gasoline and the driving season approaches. Crude oil inventories increased by nearly 2 million barrels last week, more than analysts expected, according to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration's weekly report. Even though supplies are 3 percent lower than last year, they remain well above average levels. Supplies of gasoline and distillates used for diesel fuel and heating oil also continue to be well above the average range, according to the report. "Any way you look it, we have a huge supply of crude oil, gasoline and distillates," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates. Traders also kept an eye on Federal Reserve policymakers, who kept interest rates at historic lows Wednesday. Analysts say consistently low interest rates played a role in pushing oil prices higher over the past year. Raising rates could temper economic growth, crimp oil and gas demand and make the dollar stronger. A stronger dollar makes crude, which is priced in dollars, more expensive and less attractive for investors holding other currencies.