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U.S. Gasoline Demand Fell 1.5% Last Week, MasterCard Says

March 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. gasoline demand fell 1.5 percent last week from the prior week as pump prices reached the highest level since June, MasterCard Inc. said.

Drivers bought 8.37 million barrels a day of gasoline in the seven days ended March 2, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report.

Purchases totaled 58.6 million barrels, the 10th week in a row that demand fell below 60 million. That’s a record, John Gamel, a gasoline analyst and director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said in the report.

Gasoline use was down 6.5 percent from a year earlier, the 26th consecutive week demand was lower than year-earlier levels. MasterCard’s data goes back to July 2004.

Demand over the previous four weeks was 6.3 percent below the same period in 2011. That’s the 50th consecutive decline in that measure and the biggest drop since February 2010.

The average pump price rose 15 cents to $3.75 a gallon, the highest price since June 17. The price was 9.3 percent above a year earlier. The largest regional increases were on the West Coast and in the Midwest, where prices surged 21 cents.

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.

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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