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No illegal price manipulation by oil companies after Katrina: FTC

[JURIST] US oil companies did not illegally manipulate gasoline prices [press release] or restrain supply last year in the wake of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive], according to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] report [PDF text] released Monday. US antitrust authorities performed an investigation of the oil industry, and, like several past investigations, found no evidence of price manipulation by refiners or pipeline companies, either through cutting inventory or restricting capacity to superficially raise prices.

The FTC did find, however, 15 examples of price-gouging at the refining, wholesale or retail level. The FTC findings correspond with legislators' definition of price gouging, but it is likely that regional market trends ranging from pipeline outages to panic buying in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are to blame and not any fault on the oil companies. Congress defines price gouging as "any finding that the average price of gasoline in designated disaster areas in September 2005 was higher than in August 2005 for reasons other than rising production or transportation costs, or national or international market trends." Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

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