U.S. Gasoline Demand Slipped 1.5% Last Week, MasterCard Says

Friday, 30 March 2012 12:54 PM

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. gasoline demand declined 1.5 percent last week from the prior seven days and consumption slipped below year-earlier levels for the 30th consecutive week, MasterCard Inc. said.

Drivers bought 8.65 million barrels a days of gasoline in the seven days ended March 23, down from 8.78 million the week before, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report.

The average pump price rose 4 cents in the past week to $3.88 a gallon, the highest price since May 20. Gasoline has jumped 19 percent this year and 9 percent in the past year.

“Persistent increases in the price at the pump have continued to erode gasoline consumption,” John Gamel, a gasoline analyst and director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said in the report. He said typical seasonal factors contributed to an increase in March from February.

Gasoline demand year-to-date is 5.7 percent below a year earlier. That ties for the biggest decline for this time of the year in MasterCard records, which go back to July 2004.

Last week’s demand slid 7 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. Fuel use over the previous four weeks was 6.6 percent below the same period in 2011, a record 53rd consecutive decline in that measure.

The highest prices are on the West Coast, where the average was up 1 cent to $4.23 a gallon. The lowest prices were in the Rocky Mountains, where a gallon increased 9 cents to $3.62.

The report from Purchase, New York-based MasterCard is assembled by MasterCard Advisors, the company’s consulting arm. The information is based on credit-card swipes and cash and check payments at about 140,000 U.S. gasoline stations.

Visa Inc. is the biggest payments network company by transactions processed.

--Editors: Richard Stubbe, Charlotte Porter

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara J Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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