Bloomberg News

U.S. Gasoline Demand at 14-Week High, MasterCard Says

December 06, 2011

(Adds regional data in sixth paragraph.)

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. gasoline demand rose 1 percent last week to a 14-week high as motorists refilled their tanks after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to MasterCard Inc.

Drivers bought 9.06 million barrels a day of gasoline in the week ended Dec. 2, up from 8.97 million the week before, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse report. That’s the highest level since Aug. 26 and follows a 3 percent gain during the prior week.

Fuel use fell below a year earlier for the 14th consecutive time last week, down 4 percent from 2010 levels. Fuel demand over the previous four weeks was 4.2 percent below a year earlier, the 37th consecutive decline in that measure.

“While the post-Thanksgiving week produced week-over-week gains similar to ones we had seen last year, given the overall depressed levels of gasoline demand, we continue to observe declines in year-over-year terms,” John Gamel, a gasoline analyst and director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said in the report.

Thanksgiving was on Nov. 24 this year and the holiday period extended through Nov. 27.

On a regional basis, fuel demand rose in six of seven geographic districts last week and was little changed in the lower Atlantic region. The largest increase was in the Rocky Mountain area where consumption jumped 5.8 percent.

Gasoline consumption in 2011 through Dec. 2 is down 1.5 percent from a year earlier, a wider gap than the prior week’s 1.4 percent difference, according to the second-biggest payments network company.

Pump Price Falls

The average pump price fell 4 cents to $3.30 a gallon, the lowest level since Feb. 25. Prices were 15 percent higher than a year earlier.

Gasoline demand peaked this year at 9.56 million barrels a day in the week ended July 1 as motorists filled their tanks before the July 4 holiday weekend. The lowest level of consumption came in the week ended Feb. 11 when consumers bought 8.47 million barrels a day.

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, Bill Banker

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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