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US gasoline demand reaches record high: EIA

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Platts Global Alert - Oil

US gasoline demand reaches record high: EIA

Houston —

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US gasoline demand reached a record high last week, US Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday.

In the week ended June 14, implied US gasoline demand -- which the EIA measures as product supplied -- reached 9.928 million b/d, the highest that figure has ever been in data going as far back as February 1991.

The prior record was set in the week ended August 24, 2018, when product supplied reached 9.899 million b/d.

US gasoline demand has found support from weaker retail pump prices in June, which have helped encourage drivers to spend more time in their cars and trucks.

The EIA says that the average US gasoline pump price fell 6.2 cents/gal from June 10 to June 17. With the national average price now at $2.67/gal, the EIA says pump prices are now 20.9 cents/gal below their levels from one year ago.

Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, said weaker prices for crude oil and gasoline are important for explaining stronger US demand and added that the expanding US economy is another key factor.

"Economic growth is steady and US unemployment is very low," he said.

Lipow also said it is important to take the weekly EIA implied demand data with a grain of salt.

"I have seen the weekly demand statistic fluctuate 10% or more from week to week," he said. "So I am waiting to see this elevated demand continue in the data for the coming weeks before drawing any conclusions."

After the release of Wednesday's EIA data, the USGC gasoline cash market rallied higher.

"EIA data is for last week, but it can still feed the market and cause it to move," a gasoline broker said in the morning.

The broker said that with US gasoline demand apparently up on the week, Gulf Coast spot trading was "on the run" Wednesday, with differentials rising up throughout the day.

Early Wednesday USGC benchmark CBOB was bid at NYMEX August RBOB futures minus 14.50 cents/gal. Eventually, S&P Global Platts assessed it at futures minus 13.75 cents/gal on Wednesday evening, up 1.07 cents on a flat price basis from Tuesday.

--Seth Clare, seth.clare@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com