A gasoline exchange traded fund (ETF) fell precipitously late last week on news of elevated U.S. stockpiles as energy futures markets saw a temporary freeze in trading on three contracts.

The U.S. Gasoline Fund (NYSEArca: UGA) ended down 6.4% on Thursday after the sudden drop in gasoline futures. [Gasoline ETF Tumbles 7%.]

The sudden plunge in gasoline futures also triggered a trading halt on crude oil, heating oil and gasoline futures for the first time in over two years – gasoline futures dropped by the 25 cent daily limit after the U.S. Energy Department revealed that fuel consumption is diminishing, reports Jerry A. DiColo for The Wall Street Journal. Circuit breakers were triggered on the Globex, CME Group Inc.’s (CME) electronic-trading platform. The three major energy contracts all halt simultaneously when one hits a limit since the markets are closely related.

However, the five minute freeze was not too catastrophic since they “got close (to trading limits) a few days ago, and so people double-checked the rules. So guys were prepared,” remarks Peter Donovan, a trader with Vantage Trading in the Nymex options pit.

Gasoline for June delivery fell 7.6% to $3.1228 a gallon.

The Energy Department stated that U.S. stockpiles of gasoline increased, which suggests that retail gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon are forcing consumers to reduce consumption and hurting business’ bottom line.

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