March 24 (UPI) -- Metrics measuring consumer demand for fuels and related products in the United States were indicative of an improving economy, a trade group said.
The American Petroleum Institute reported total petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, gained 0.1 percent to 19.7 million barrels per day, its highest level since 2008. Total motor gasoline deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, was up to its second-highest level in nine years to 8.9 million bpd.
"Crude oil production broke the 9 million barrels per day threshold for the first time since March 2016," API Chief Economist Erica Bowman said in a statement. "This increase in production combined with more widespread jobs gains is good news for the economy, which appears to be moving in the right direction."
Citing steady gains in the labor sector, one of the bright spots for the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said earlier this month the U.S. economy "is doing well." Bank Gov. Jerome H. Powell in February said the U.S. economy had come under pressure because lower prices for energy products like oil were acting to throttle inflation. With oil prices and labor figures holding steady, he said the "economy is strong and operating near its capacity."
A mid-March survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on the G20 area reported growth of 0.7 percent during the fourth quarter, down slightly from the 0.8 percent recorded in the previous quarter.
North American growth "slowed sharply," the OECD reported, with the United States, the world's leading economy, slowing from 1.1 percent to 0.7 percent. Federal U.S. estimates were higher for the fourth quarter than the preliminary report from the OECD, though the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in February reported the rate of growth last year was slower than for 2015.
Elsewhere, API noted that, while crude oil production has increased, February levels were still lower year-on-year by 1.3 percent. Crude oil imports, meanwhile, increased 2.8 percent despite gains in domestic production to 8.1 million bpd.
"For year to date, total petroleum imports were also up by 6.7 percent compared with year to date 2016," the trade group said.