Futures sank after the Energy Department reported yesterday that total fuel use over the past four weeks was 5.7 percent below a year earlier. A gauge of European services and manufacturing slipped more than forecast. A preliminary measure of Chinese manufacturing was the lowest in four months, according HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics.
“Now, we’re seeing signs China is starting to slow, there’s uncertainty in Europe and we’re still not seeing an uptick in fuel demand,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Gasoline for April delivery fell 5.5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $3.3021 a gallon at 9:43 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the third consecutive decline. Futures have surged 23 percent this year, the best performance in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities.
A euro-area composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries fell to 48.7 from 49.3 in February, London-based Markit Economics said in an initial estimate today. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
The preliminary 48.1 reading in a purchasing managers’ index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics today is the lowest since November.
Gasoline deliveries to wholesalers over the past four weeks was 7.8 percent below a year earlier, according to department data. By that same measure, distillate demand was 8.5 percent below last year.
Heating oil for April delivery fell 3.73 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.1789 a gallon, the fourth straight loss. Prices have gained 8.3 percent this year.
Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 1.7 cents to $3.881 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA, the nation’s biggest motoring group. Prices have gained 18 percent this year and are 9.4 percent higher than a year ago. Gasoline peaked in 2011 at $3.985 on May 4.
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