Summer gasoline use down for first time in 17 years

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Record gasoline prices and a contracting U.S. economy will reduce summer gasoline demand for the first time in 17 years, the government's top energy forecasting agency said Tuesday.

U.S. gasoline prices will hit a monthly peak of just over $3.60 per gallon in June, helping to reduce motor fuel demand by 0.4 percent this busy driving season compared to last summer, said the federal Energy Information Administration.

In its summer forecast, EIA said gasoline demand will be 36,000 barrels per day lower at 9.404 million bpd, the first summer decline since 1991.

Consumers will pay an average $3.54 a gallon during the summer driving season, which runs from April through September, up 61 cents from last year, according to the Energy Department's analytical and forecasting arm.

However, EIA cautioned that gasoline prices in some parts of the country "will cross the $4 per gallon threshold."

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