The gap between the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Mercantile Exchange continued to widen today.

Gasoline prices jumped again because of Hurricane Katrina's damage to Gulf Coast wells and refineries, but stock traders insisted it didn't matter.

At the Merc -- a few blocks north of Wall Street -- unleaded gasoline futures climbed another 17.5 cents to $2.65 a gallon -- up 75 cents this week.

At that level, the wholesale price of gas is actually higher than what the AAA reports was the nationwide average retail price as of yesterday. Taxes, transportation costs and profits have to be added to the wholesale price, so even after huge jumps during the past couple of days, pump prices still have a lot of catching up to do.

Only three days ago, energy experts were triggering gasps by predicting unleaded regular would soon top $3 a gallon because the hurricane shut eight refineries and cut off most off-shore oil production.

Today there was talk of $4 a gallon gas by next week.

Although the latest Washington Post-ABC polls show President Bush's popularity is shrinking because Americans are being hurt by high energy prices, Wall Street has taken the super spike in stride.

Stocks rose today as oil company shares climbed and speculators began drawing up portfolios of companies they think will benefit from Katrina and her aftermath.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 69 points to 10,481.60. The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index gained 22 points to 2,152.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index closed up almost 12 points at 1,220.33.

While stock traders seemed sanguine about the storm, economists worried that Katrina will hurt the U.S. economy more than first thought.

Several private analysts warned that staggering increases in oil prices could slow economic growth, but the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said the impact would be temporary.

"The expansion is strong enough to withstand them," said Anthony Santomero in remarks prepared for a luncheon address.

The prospect of a slowdown was cheered by bond traders, who calculated it could reduce the odds that the Fed will keep boosting interest rates. Interest rates on government bonds fell in anticipation that the Fed will have to hold down rates to offset the damage done to growth by Katrina.