October 12, 2011 / 6:06 PM / 8 years ago

High prices pressure U.S. gasoline demand: MasterCard

Unleaded gas price is displayed at JJ's Express Gas Plus station in Phoenix gas station in Phoenix, Arizona August 10, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

(Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline demand fell again last week as the price of the fuel remained higher than a year earlier, MasterCard said in its SpendingPulse report on Wednesday.

Demand dropped 2.5 percent compared with the corresponding week last year, the data showed.

High prices forced motorists to cut back on all but essential driving. A gallon of gasoline was 23.2 percent more expensive year-on-year, even as costs at the pump fell 6 cents a gallon from the week before to $3.40, MasterCard said.

Demand declined 0.3 percent from the previous week. The four-week moving average, down 2.3 percent last week compared with year-ago levels, fell for the 29th straight time.

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.

Reporting by Selam Gebrekidan; Editing by Dale Hudson

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