NEW YORK - U.S. retail gasoline demand rose 0.9 percent last week compared with the previous week, according to a MasterCard SpendingPulse report released on Tuesday.

Gasoline demand averaged 9.17 million barrels per day during the week ended Sept. 25, according to the weekly report.

Some general pickup in the economic environment could be helping (to boost demand), said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors.

However, the increase in demand was dampened somewhat in the Lower Atlantic states where storms contributed to weak demand last week, he said.

Retail prices for gasoline fell 2 cents last week to a national average of $2.51 a gallon, 32.3 percent below year-ago levels.

Demand for gasoline rose 1 percent last week compared with the same period a year ago, but some of the difference in demand could be explained by the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, which caused pipeline disruptions in the Gulf and Lower Atlantic states in 2008, McNamara said.

The four-week moving average of U.S. gasoline consumption was nearly flat year-over-year, down 0.1 percent. Year-to-date, U.S. gasoline demand rose 0.2 percent compared with the same period a year ago.

MasterCard Advisors estimates retail gasoline demand based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments system coupled with estimates for all other payment forms including cash and checks. MasterCard Advisors is a unit of MasterCard Inc (MA.N).

(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)