U.S. Gasoline Demand Declined Last Week, MasterCard Says

U.S. gasoline demand slid 3.7 percent last week, the first decline in four weeks, as Americans used less fuel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to MasterCard Inc. (MA)

Drivers bought 9.01 million barrels a day of gasoline in the week ended June 1, down from 9.36 million the week before, MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report showed.

For the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, from May 25 through May 28, drivers pumped 1.7 percent less gasoline than the same holiday period in 2011.

The average pump price declined 6 cents in the past week to $3.63 a gallon, the lowest level since Feb. 24. Prices are 4.2 percent below a year earlier.

“While on the one hand the lower prices help drive consumption, sluggish economic conditions continue to act as braking force,” John Gamel, a gasoline analyst and director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said in the report.

The highest prices were on the West Coast, where the average fell 2 cents to $4.20 a gallon. The lowest prices were on the Gulf Coast, where a gallon declined 7 cents to $3.42.

Fuel consumption was 2 percent below the year-earlier level, the 40th straight decline in that measure. Year-to-date gasoline demand is 4.8 percent below the same period in 2011.

Fuel use over the previous four weeks fell 1.9 percent below the same period in 2011, a record 63rd consecutive drop in that measure. That was the smallest decline since the weed ending Sept. 16, 2011.

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) is the biggest payments network company by transactions processed.

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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