Gasoline demand flat last week: MasterCard

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. retail gasoline demand was flat last week but fell compared with levels a year ago as higher prices pressured demand while an improved employment outlook provided support, MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse report showed on Tuesday.

Average gasoline demand fell 0.2 percent year-over-year, its fourth consecutive slip, MasterCard said. Demand was seen at 9.3 million barrels per day.

“The smaller pickup in demand compared to last year is worth noting as prices remain in record territory,” said John Gamel, director of economic analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse in a note.

Retail gasoline prices were also flat, at $3.56 a gallon, for the first time since the start of February. Still, prices are 26.7 percent higher than a year ago, driven by the volatile oil markets and the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, according to MasterCard.

Over the latest four weeks, U.S. gasoline consumption fell 0.7 percent year-on-year.

(Graphic on four-week average demand: http://link.reuters.com/dah62k)

MasterCard Advisors estimates retail gasoline demand based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments system coupled with estimates for all other payment forms including cash and checks. MasterCard Advisors is a unit of MasterCard Inc.

(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)

Gasoline demand flat last week: MasterCard