U.S. gasoline demand rose 4.3 percent last week as Americans traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday and East Coast gas stations reopened after Hurricane Sandy, according to data from MasterCard Inc. (MA:US)
Drivers bought 8.83 million barrels a day of gasoline in the week ended Nov. 23, up from 8.46 million the prior week, MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report showed.
The gain follows an increase of 0.9 percent in the seven days ended Nov. 16. Sandy, the largest tropical storm on record in the Atlantic, made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, disrupting production and distribution in the mid-Atlantic area, including the New York metro area, and sending demand to the lowest since March in the week ended Nov. 9.
The four-week average was 2.9 percent below a year earlier in the week ended Nov. 23. It has been down from the previous year every week except one since March 18, 2011. Year-to-date fuel consumption is 3.6 percent below the same period in 2011.
The lowest demand this year through Oct. 26 was 8.01 million barrels on Feb. 10. The highest level reached was 9.36 million on May 25.
The average pump price fell 1 cent in the past week to $3.43 a gallon, the cheapest since the week ended July 20, the report showed. Drivers are paying 2.7 percent more than a year earlier. Prices reached a year-to-date peak of $3.94 on April 6.
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. (V:US) is the biggest payments network company by transactions processed.
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