(Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline demand rose sharply last week from the previous week as Americans hit the road for the Christmas holiday, but demand was down from the same week in 2010, MasterCard said in its weekly SpendingPulse report on Wednesday.
Last week's gasoline demand rose 7.7 percent compared with the previous week, MasterCard said, but demand was 1.6 percent lower than it was a year ago.
At an average $3.23 a gallon, gasoline was 4 cents cheaper than the previous week. Nonetheless, retail prices held to a 7.7 percent premium over levels seen last year, crimping demand in year-to-year terms.
The four-week moving average for demand fell 3.6 percent compared with year-ago levels. (Graphic: http://link.reuters.com/mak44s)
MasterCard Advisors, a unit of MasterCard Inc, estimates retail gasoline demand based on aggregate sales in the MasterCard payments system coupled with estimates for other payment forms including cash and checks.
(Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by David Gregorio)