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U.S. Gasoline Demand Declined 2.8% Last Week, MasterCard Says

U.S. gasoline demand slid 2.8 percent last week and was more than 5 percent below year-earlier levels for the third straight week, MasterCard Inc. said.

Drivers bought 8.27 million barrels a day of gasoline in the seven days ended Feb. 3, a four-week low, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report.

Gasoline demand slipped below year-earlier levels for a 23rd consecutive time, declining 5.3 percent from 2011 after previous declines of 5.5 percent and 5.2 percent.

Gasoline use over the previous four weeks was 4.9 percent below the 2011 period, the 46th consecutive decline in that measure. MasterCard’s data goes back to July 2004.

The average pump price rose 8 cents to $3.47 a gallon, after being unchanged the prior two weeks. Prices were 12 percent above a year earlier. The biggest regional gain was on the Gulf Coast, which saw prices jump 11 cents in a week.

“Gasoline prices rose noticeably this past week after taking a pause through most of January,” John Gamel, a gasoline analyst and director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said in the report.

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.

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