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Gasoline Fluctuates on Supply Estimate, Stalled Budget Talks

Gasoline fluctuated after a report that U.S. inventories of the motor fuel increased last week and as President Obama prepared to meet with Congressional leaders about the looming fiscal deadline.

Futures swung between gains and losses after the industry- funded American Petroleum Institute reported yesterday that gasoline stockpiles rose 2.41 million barrels in the seven days ended Dec. 21. Today’s White House meeting comes four days before more than $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases are set to take effect.

“Gasoline is under pressure as supplies have built and the market is just waiting to see if any headline comes out today from President Obama’s meeting and if Congress will take any action on Sunday evening,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Gasoline for January delivery gained 0.08 cent to $2.8221 a gallon at 9:33 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after swinging between $2.8058 and $2.8383. Prices are up 3.2 percent this week, extending this year’s advance to 5.1 percent. Volume was 30 percent below the average of the past 100 days.

The Republican-led House called a Sunday session for the evening of Dec. 30. If the deadline passes without a budget deal, the risk is that the U.S. would fall into another recession, which could reduce demand for consumer goods and oil products.

Energy Department

The Energy Department is scheduled to report last week’s inventories at 11 a.m. today, two days later than usual because of the Christmas holiday. The department will probably report that gasoline stockpiles rose 850,000 barrels, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

The survey projected the department will report that heating oil and diesel supplies declined 850,000 barrels. API reported that distillate inventories rose 2.95 million barrels.

Heating oil for January delivery climbed 0.22 cent to $3.0745 a gallon. Prices are up 1.7 percent this week and have gained 4.8 percent this year. Volume was 62 percent below average.

The average nationwide cost for regular gasoline rose 1.8 cents to $3.279 a gallon, AAA said today on its website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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