For five consecutive weeks, Americans have bought less gas than they did a year earlier, according to MasterCard Spending Pulse, which tracks the volume of gas sold at 140,000 service stations nationwide. For the week of April 1, drivers bought about 2.4 million fewer gallons than they did one year earlier, or 3.6 percent. That was the biggest decline since December, when people were staying home because of snowstorms.
The good news is that oil futures tumbled today, with NY crude selling at $109.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after hitting a multiyear high of $113.46 earlier in the day. But the oil markets remain quite volatile, and there's no telling whether the drop is for real. From the WSJ:
Credit Suisse said high gasoline prices have already started to weigh on demand, and Goldman Sachs on Monday pointed to "nascent signs of oil demand destruction" in a research report as a sign that continued oil-price increases are less likely to continue. Still, some market watchers are wary of predicting a massive drop in demand. "Demand destruction is a different issue than whether demand is a little soft," said Andy Lebow, an oil analyst with MF Global.