Idemitsu Kosan Co., a major oil distributor, said Monday it will raise prices of gasoline, diesel oil and other petroleum products by 2.1 yen per liter starting Friday due to higher crude oil prices.

The price increase will be followed by an additional hike of around 1.5 yen, effective May 1, Idemitsu said.

Other oil distributors are expected to follow suit, which is likely to push retail gasoline prices up, industry officials said.

Gas prices are about where they were last fall, when they matched their March 1991 peak at the time of the Persian Gulf War. The latest price hikes are likely to break those record highs, industry insiders say.

Idemitsu usually sets wholesale prices for its products at the start of every month. It rarely announces price changes in the middle of the month.

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