The gasoline demand is an indirect indicator of economic activity and the recent surge in cases of coronavirus in States such as Arizona, Florida and Texas could stem the rise in gas prices.
In Texas, second most populous after California, prices could drop sharply after the governor Greg Abbott called Tuesday for people to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus.
The demand for gasoline has recovered more than half of the decline that it has suffered when the coronavirus is widespread in April, and many States and cities have ordered people to stay home and businesses to close, said on Wednesday IHS Markit, a consultancy and research.
A survey of 15 000 service stations by IHS carried out before the new increase in cases has revealed that the use of gasoline had decreased by approximately 22% during the second week of June compared to the same week a year ago. This is a clear improvement compared to the second week of April, when the gas purchases have decreased by almost 50%.
So far this year, gasoline sales decreased the most in the North-East, where the pandemic is widely spread in march and April, making tens of thousands of deaths. Demand is down by about a third in Massachusetts. In comparison, sales were down approximately 26% in California.
On Wednesday, the average price of regular gasoline nationwide was $ 2.16 per gallon, up from 2.66 $ a year earlier, according to AAA. Prices at the pump have risen in recent weeks. Oil prices remain about a third below at the beginning of the year.
“We can see a new preference for driving your car instead of public transport or a flight to a short distance, and people want to get out,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Service information on the price of oil, according to IHS. “But this will be offset by less commuting and more working from home, the cancellation of sporting events, unemployment rates are still high and may be a second wave of the virus in the autumn. “