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Knoxville — A University of Tennessee economist said rising gasoline prices in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago could fuel inflation.

“Any thing that raises prices will affect inflation,” said Dr. William Fox, research director of UT’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “If price gouging were going on, it would represent higher prices and greater inflation.

“Since those cities are competitive markets, I-m sure a number of federal agencies are looking to see if there-s any evidence of gouging taking place.”

Gasoline companies were required by the federal government to begin selling cleaner-burning fuel on June 1. The companies said the new fuel is more expensive to make.

“Those higher prices are built into the cost of many other things we buy, because of production and transportation costs,” Fox said. “And higher gas prices also take some of your income that might be spent on other things.”