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Gasoline Falls as Consumption Expected to Decline to 10-Year Low

Gasoline declined as the U.S. Energy Department reduced its forecast for gasoline consumption and on speculation that U.S. inventories of the motor fuel increased last week.

Futures slipped the department said demand will decline 2.4 percent this year to a 10-year low of 8.77 million barrels a day, down from the previous month’s estimate of 8.81 million. Gasoline stockpiles probably rose 1 million barrels last week, according to the median estimate of 13 analysts in a survey by Bloomberg News.

“There’s the anticipation of a build right now,” said Fred Rigolini, vice president of Paramount Options Inc. in New York.

December-delivery gasoline declined 2.18 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $2.7064 a gallon on the Nymex.

Prices earlier touched $2.7576, retreating after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi couldn’t win an absolute majority on a budget vote, raising concern over who will lead that country as it struggles with a financial crisis that is gripping Europe.

Berlusconi has now offered to resign as soon as Parliament approves austerity measures in a vote next week, President Giorgio Napolitano said in an e-mailed statement after meeting Berlusconi in Rome.

“It’s a nervous market,” said Ray Carbone, president of Paramount Options. “Berlusconi is unwilling or unable to push through the reforms people want for austerity.”

Gasoline Demand

U.S. gasoline consumption declined 3.6 percent last week from a year earlier, the 10th week in which demand has fallen short of year-ago levels, according to MasterCard Inc.

December-delivery heating oil fell 0.37 cent to settle at $3.1161 a gallon on the exchange.

U.S. distillate supplies declined 2.2 million barrels last week to 139.7 million, the lowest level since April 2009, according to the survey.

“The expectation is to see a continued draw on distillate stocks, indicating tighter supplies as we head into the winter season,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

The Energy Department is scheduled to report last week’s U.S. inventories at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 0.7 cent to $3.414 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA data.

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