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U.S. Gasoline Demand Bucks Seasonal Trend

Higher prices at the pump may have finally started to affect driver behavior in the United States, with Bloomberg reporting that an indicator of gasoline consumption remained flat last week instead of rising, which would be the normal development for this time of the year.

The four-week rolling average of oil products supplied, the report said, remained almost unchanged last week at 8.82 million bpd. This is a marked departure from patterns of consumption seen over the past six years with the exception of 2020, the lockdown year.

A poll conducted earlier this month showed that high gasoline prices are a serious problem for more than half of Americans, with as much as 37 percent calling it “a very serious problem”.

Among the other findings of the poll were a considerable reduction in household spending, which 45 percent of respondents said they had made, and cutbacks in driving, which 46 percent said they had done.

Canadians are also driving less because of higher prices at the pump, another poll revealed. As much as 54 percent of people in Canada were cutting back on driving, with the portion rising to 70 percent in Atlantic Canada.

Retail gasoline prices in many parts of the United States topped $4 per gallon this month, with California remaining the most expensive state for drivers, with the prices for regular gasoline hitting $6 per gallon in Los Angeles.

The national average price as of Wednesday was $4.237 per gallon, according to AAA, with the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest sporting the highest state average prices. Oil-producing states and their neighbors enjoyed prices below $4 per gallon, according to the data.

Meanwhile, refiners are raising gasoline production in anticipation of the summer driving season. The latest weekly data from the Energy Information Administration showed an average gasoline production rate of over 9.5 million bpd, which compared with 9.38 million bpd a week earlier and 8.69 million bpd a year earlier.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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