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    NATSO Survey Finds Fuel Demand Down

    High prices leave consumers at home over the holiday weekend.

    WASHINGTON -- High fuel prices were expected to put a damper on consumers' travel plans this past holiday weekend, according to a new survey by the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO), which found that more Americans said they would stay home over the July 4th holiday compared to last year, marking a similar response to May's Memorial Day travel plans.

    With fewer drivers on the road, retailers have seen demand for fuel drop, according to data released by NATSO prior to the July 4 weekend. Demand for gasoline dropped nearly 3 percent in May, while diesel demand fell about 6 percent in that month, NATSO stated.

    Despite the low demand, wholesale prices for both diesel and gas surged in May, according to the association, which cited Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) figures that found the average wholesale cost of fuel sold to retailers climbed 37 cents over the prior month for gasoline and more than 60 cents more for diesel.

    "In the past, when we've seen skyrocketing fuel prices like this, it is because of some crisis that squeezes supply," NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings said in a statement. "We've seen no long lines at the pump; in fact, demand has fallen and supply is adequate, so it is clear that there is another factor driving up prices."

    The association goes on to state that speculation in the markets is the cause of fuels increasing prices.

    "The markets have attracted a new breed of speculator -- non-commercial traders, such as Wall Street investment firms, pension funds, and others who have no involvement with the commodities they are buying and selling and who never intend to take delivery of a barrel of oil," NATSO stated, adding that the speculators currently make up two-thirds of all crude oil trading, double the number since the year 2000.

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