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“All bets are off if there is any major disruption in the world oil supply,” he said.

Still, more positive developments in the economy, including this winter’s low home-heating bills, are providing a counterweight for consumers, he said.

“Gasoline prices are starting to rear their ugly head,” he said, but “job prospects are looking brighter, food price increases have slowed, the stock market is feeling good, and heating bills are lower due to unseasonably warmer weather.”

The help people got from lower heating bills could be seen vividly in a report on consumer prices that the Labor Department released Friday. While gasoline prices surged by 6 percent during the month, natural gas prices fell by 3.4 percent, limiting the overall gain in consumer energy prices during the month to 3.2 percent.

The fall in natural gas prices helped to hold the cost of electricity flat during the three months of winter, helping people who heat their homes with electricity. Only consumers in the Northeast who heat their homes with fuel oil saw price gains. The cost of fuel oil, which like gasoline is derived from crude oil, rose 2.8 percent last month.

The low cost of most home utilities this winter also helped moderate housing costs, which have been rising at about 2 percent a year, the department said.

Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist with UniCredit Research, said consumers are benefiting tremendously from “the huge excess supply of natural gas in the U.S.” even as oil prices are going in the opposite direction as a result of rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

Like many other economists, he expects the jump in pump prices to subside in a few months after the summer driving season winds down, keeping the overall inflation rate for consumers at benign levels of about 2 percent.