April 4, 2016 / 4:45 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. gasoline demand drops for first time in 14 months: EIA

Rigging equipment is pictured in a field outside of Sweetwater, Texas June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Cooper Neill

(Reuters) - U.S demand for gasoline dropped in January from a year earlier, snapping a 14-month streak of year-over-year increases, according to data released on Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. gasoline demand, which has sustained its strength amid lower pump prices, fell in January by 0.6 percent, or 48,000 bpd, year-on-year. It was first year-over-year decrease in any month since November of 2014, EIA data showed.

“The gasoline demand figure did shock the market. Demand has been so spectacularly good, so people were surprised,” Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group, said.

The historic late January blizzard that buried much of the U.S. Northeast under mountains of snow hurt demand, Flynn said.

“People in New York City couldn’t find their car, so this was probably a one-off,” Flynn said.

U.S. distillate demand, which has been pummeled by a historically mild winter, fell 9.9 percent from January last year, as warmer weather for most of the month cut demand for heating oil.

The weaker demand for gasoline and diesel helped drive total U.S. oil demand down to 19.05 million bpd, a drop of 194,000 barrels per day, or 1 percent, from the same month last year.

The January drop in overall oil demand followed a strong December. At 19.5 million bpd, December demand rose 0.4 percent, the first year-on-year rise in four months.

Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio

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