June 24, 2008
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline demand declined nearly 2 percent year-to-date from the same time last year as gasoline prices set another record over $4 per gallon, MasterCard Advisors said Tuesday.
"High gasoline prices are depressing the normal peak driving season that occurs this time of year," said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors.
With average retail prices for gasoline rising 3 cents to a record $4.07 during the week ended June 20, American motorists may be altering their driving habits by car-pooling, working at home, and taking mass transit, McNamara said.
Year-to-date, gasoline demand was down 1.99 percent, while gasoline demand last week was 2.7 percent below the same week a year ago.
Despite year-over-year comparisons that suggest declining gasoline demand, American drivers pumped an average of 9.447 million barrels per day last week, 1.5 percent more than the previous week.
"Gasoline consumption increased due to typical seasonal cycles while gasoline prices keep rising," McNamara said.
The four-week moving average for gasoline demand, however, dropped 3.6 percent to 9.22 million bpd from a year ago, falling for the 19th consecutive week.
Meanwhile, in a Reuters poll, energy analysts forecast that the Energy Information Administration would report a slight decrease in gasoline stocks amid waning demand for the motor fuel in the face of record high prices.
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 (MA.N: Quote, Profile, Research).