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

U.S. gasoline demand rose 1.9 percent last week to a 14-week high as Americans filled their tanks for the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to data from MasterCard Inc.

Drivers bought 9.11 million barrels a day of gasoline in the week ended Aug. 31, up from 8.94 million the prior week, MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report showed. Last week’s demand reached the highest level since May 25.

Fuel consumption was 4.2 percent above the year-earlier level, after being down the previous 52 weeks. The gain was primarily the result of being compared with a week in 2011 in which Hurricane Irene disrupted travel plans, said John Gamel, director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse.

Year-to-date gasoline demand is 4.2 percent below 2011.

Fuel use over the previous four weeks fell 1.1 percent below the same period in 2011, a record 76th consecutive drop in that measure.

Gasoline consumption in the week ended Aug. 24 declined 0.4 percent from the seven days ended Aug. 17. MasterCard releases weekly data every two weeks.

The average pump price rose 8 cents in the past week to $3.80 a gallon, the highest since May 4. Prices reached a year-to-date peak of $3.94 on April 6. The average has jumped 47 cents in eight weeks and drivers are paying 17 cents more than a year earlier.

The highest prices were on the West Coast, where the average rose 4 cents to $4.04 a gallon. The lowest average was on the Gulf Coast, where a gallon gained 9 cents to $3.63.

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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