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

U.S. gasoline demand sank 3 percent to a nine-week low last week even as prices at the pump averaged the least since Jan. 6, according to MasterCard Inc.

Drivers bought 8.78 million barrels a day of gasoline in the week ended July 6, down from 9.05 million barrels consumed the prior week, MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report showed.

The prior week, demand was up 0.4 percent. MasterCard releases weekly data every two weeks.

The average pump price declined 5 cents in the past week to $3.33 a gallon. Prices have fallen 15 percent from their year-to-date peak of $3.94 on April 6. Drivers are paying 7 percent less than a year earlier.

The highest prices were on the West Coast, where the average fell 7 cents to $3.69 a gallon. The lowest prices were on the Gulf Coast, where a gallon declined 4 cents to $3.14.

Fuel consumption last week was 2.9 percent below the year-earlier level, the 45rd straight drop in that measure. Year-to-date gasoline demand is 4.7 percent below 2011.

Fuel use over the previous four weeks fell 3.9 percent below the same period in 2011, a record 68th consecutive drop in that measure.

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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