Fuel price heads over $1.50
Expensive business: Fuel price heads over $1.50. Picture: Kirsten Sivyer/ The Kalgoorlie Miner

Average petrol prices will soon push above the $1.50 a litre mark, eating into the hip pockets of Perth motorists, as signs grow the world economy is on the mend.

New figures from the Australian Institute of Petroleum show the average price of unleaded fuel across Perth climbed to a 10-month high last week of 147.9�, jumping 3.5� over the preceding seven days.

Since mid-January, average prices have climbed 9� a litre.

The increase since the start of the year has cost the average family about $12 a month.

And more bowser pain is on the way.

CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said that with the terminal gate price on the rise, average retail prices were likely to push up about 3� a litre over the next seven to 10 days.

"There are few signs that world oil prices have peaked," he said. "The average monthly petrol bill has lifted $12 since the start of the year, taking spending power away from consumers and further depressing conditions for retailers."

But car sales continue to set new records. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed a record January for car sales which hit 95,964, to be 10.8 per cent higher than a year ago.

In WA, sales fell from December to 11,101 but it was also a record January result for the State's car yards. Despite the increase in petrol prices, 4WDs and sports utilities are increasingly the vehicles of choice.

Sales of sport utilities climbed 3.8 per cent last month to be 18 per cent higher through the year.

Business vehicle sales also lifted last month, by 3.5 per cent.

But traditional passenger car sales edged down 8.2 per cent and stand 1.7 per cent lower than at the start of last year.

Three years ago, 4WD sales accounted for 20 per cent of all vehicle sales. As of last month, they accounted for 28 per cent.

The West Australian

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