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U.S. Gasoline Demand Rose 2.5% Last Week, MasterCard Says

U.S. gasoline demand rose 2.5 percent last week from the prior seven days even as consumption was almost 7 percent below year-earlier levels, MasterCard Inc. said.

Drivers bought 8.49 million barrels a day of gasoline in the seven days ended Feb. 24, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report. Purchases totaled 59.4 million barrels, the ninth week in row of demand below 60 million.

Gasoline use was lower than year-earlier levels for a 26th consecutive time. Last week’s 6.9 percent drop was the biggest year-over-year decrease since Feb. 12, 2010. MasterCard’s data goes back to July 2004.

Gasoline use over the previous four weeks was 6 percent below the same period in 2011, the 49th consecutive decline in that measure.

The average pump price rose 7 cents to $3.60 a gallon, the highest price since Sept. 16. Prices were 11 percent above a year earlier. The largest regional increase was on the West Coast, where prices surged 17 cents.

“Gasoline demand continues to post steeper year-over-year declines as we near the end of February, in tandem with the steady rise in gasoline prices,” 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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