Gasoline demand up for the first time in a year

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 05, 2012 2:19 PM
Gasoline demand up for the first time in a year

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorists pumped more gasoline in the two weeks leading to the Labor Day holiday than they did a year ago, when Hurricane Irene disrupted travel plans, the bi-weekly SpendingPulse report from MasterCard showed on Wednesday.

Gasoline demand in the two weeks ending on August 31 rose 0.1 percent from the same period in 2011, according to the report.

It was the first year-over-year rise in gasoline demand in a year.

Demand got a boost last week as drivers prepared for their final summer holiday, the long Labor Day weekend. Last week's gasoline consumption was 4.2 percent higher than a year ago, MasterCard said. The yearly comparisons were also distorted by the effects of the hurricane last year.

Prices kept climbing as Gulf Coast refineries shut operations last week ahead of storm Isaac, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane last week.

On average, a gallon of gasoline sold for $3.80 during the two weeks, 9 cents higher than the previous weeks.

In week-to-week terms, demand first dropped by 0.4 percent in the week to August 24 then increased by 1.9 percent last week, the report showed.

Last week's four-week moving average for demand was 1.1 percent lower than a year earlier.

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.

It changed the frequency of its report this summer from weekly to every other week.

(Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by David Gregorio)