September 30, 2016 / 8:36 PM / 10 months ago

U.S. oil demand falls for first time in six months in July - EIA

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NEW YORK, Sept 30 (Reuters) - U.S. oil demand fell in July on a year-over-year basis for the first time in six months, as gasoline sales could not overcome weak distillate demand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Friday.

Total oil demand in July fell by 1.3 percent, or 267,000 barrels per day (bpd), from a year ago to 19.712 million bpd, EIA data showed.

It was the first time oil demand fell year-over-year since January and the fifth year-over-year decrease in the past 12 months, EIA data showed.

The demand growth was led once again by gasoline, which rose by 1.7 percent, or 159,000 bpd, from a year ago to 9.597 million bpd, according to the EIA's petroleum supply monthly report.

Gasoline demand in June was the highest ever at 9.66 million bpd, according to the EIA, which began tracking gasoline demand in 1945.

U.S. gasoline demand is expected to be historic for this summer's driving season, which unofficially ended on Labor Day. Despite steady demand, U.S. refiners are still battling weak margins due to stubbornly high gasoline inventories.

The gasoline demand numbers were not strong enough to overcome weak demand for distillates, which fell 7.7 percent year-over-year in July, or 299,000 bpd, to 3.578 million bpd, EIA data showed. (Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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