The price of petrol has risen for the first time in four months thanks to a surge in the cost of oil, data shows.

The average price of a litre of unleaded rose last month to 126.1p, the first monthly increase since July, according to the RAC.

The cost of a barrel of oil rose $3 to $67 in December – up nearly five per cent – after a cooling in the 17 month oil price war between the US and China.

Today, this is now around $70, suggesting further price increases at the forecourts are likely.

With China being one of the world’s biggest consumers of oil, the dispute had suppressed the price of crude due to lower demand – much to the benefit of drivers at the pumps – until last month.

Supermarkets quickly reacted to the rise in wholesale costs, increasing forecourt prices just two weeks after headline-grabbing price cuts.

Asda led the way by reducing its petrol price to 117.7p per litre on 13 December, but then raised it to 120.3p by 29 December. Its rivals also increased their unleaded prices.

Drivers of diesel cars were also hit by a price rise last month, with the average cost of a litre of the fuel increasing by 0.8p to 130.6p.

The difference between the average price across all UK retailers for petrol and the supermarkets is 4.63p with 126.11p as the UK average and 121.48p the average for the big four supermarkets.

This takes the average cost of filling up a 55-litre family car with petrol to £69.36 and £71.84 for diesel.

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