May 31, 2017 / 6:29 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. gasoline demand falls for third consecutive month -EIA

NEW YORK, May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. gasoline demand fell year-over-year for the third consecutive month in March, according to federal data released Thursday, putting the country on track for its first year-over-year decline since 2012.

The modest drop in U.S. gasoline demand was offset by strong demand for distillates, helping push total oil demand up by 2.1 percent in March versus last year, according to EIA's Petroleum Supply Monthly report.

U.S. gasoline demand fell by 0.5 percent to 9.353 million barrels per day in March versus last year, EIA data shows. Demand fell by 1.9 percent in January and 2.4 percent in February.

U.S. refiners and analysts have blamed poor weather and even U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration policy for the weak demand early this year. They still expect gasoline demand will rise modestly from last year's record levels.

U.S. gasoline demand, which accounts for 10 percent of global consumption, has risen each year since 2012.

U.S. distillate demand was up 5.4 percent to 4.15 million bpd in March compared with last year, EIA data showed.

The weak U.S. gasoline is at odds with driving volumes, which are on pace for another record year, federal data shows, suggesting stronger fuel efficiency standards are starting to take hold.

Motorists logged 272 billion miles (438 billion km) on U.S. roads and highways in March, a 0.8 percent increase year-on-year, according to the latest data released on Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. vehicle miles traveled were up 1.5 percent year-over-year through the first three months of 2017.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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