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NEW YORK -- The slowing economy led to lower U.S. weekly retail gasoline demand compared to a year ago, although falling pump prices boosted week-to-week demand for the second week in a row, according to MasterCard Advisors.
On average, U.S. drivers paid $3.09 per gallon for gasoline in the week ended Oct. 17, 32 cents less than a week earlier, Reuters reported.
Year-on-year demand for the week to Oct. 17, was down 6.4 percent, but some gains were seen vs. the previous week, MasterCard said in its weekly SpendingPulse report.
"What seems to be happening is that we are getting relief on price," said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors.
American motorists pumped an average of 8.986 million barrels per day of gasoline during the week, up 1.6 percent from the week earlier, the data showed.
Gasoline prices are falling in tandem with the price of crude, now hovering around $70 a barrel, and pump prices are less than half of mid-July levels when they hit a record $4.10 a gallon.
"The second factor that is driving the number down are economic and financial market issues. That appears to still be with us," McNamara said.
Gasoline prices are still 10.8 percent higher than they were last year, Reuters noted.
The four-week average of gasoline consumption amounted to 8.864 million barrels per day, down 7.6 percent from a year ago.
MasterCard Advisors estimates retail gasoline demand based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments system coupled with estimates for all other payment forms. MasterCard Advisors is a unit of MasterCard Inc.