Gasoline Rises on Supply Concern; Crack Spread Hits Record High
Gasoline rose a second consecutive day in New York on concern refinery shutdowns will tighten supply as demand picks up in April.
Futures advanced as much as 2.1 percent. Gasoline is the top performer this year on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities. The April crack spread, or premium of gasoline over West Texas Intermediate crude on Nymex, gained 18 cents to $44.21 a barrel and touched a record $45.19. The spread versus Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London slipped 36 cents to $22.70 a barrel.
“Gas has come back really strong,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “The main driver is worries about all the offline refinery production as we get near the usual seasonal step-up in demand.”
March-delivery gasoline rose 1.11 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $3.0907 a gallon at 10:10 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange on volume that was 34 percent above the five-year average for the time of day. The fuel has gained 9.9 percent this year.
Seasonal plant maintenance typically peaks in March and April. Refineries used 82.9 percent of capacity in the week ended Feb. 5, the lowest level in 11 months, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Gasoline imports slipped to a four-week low. Hess Corp. is scheduled to permanently close its Port Reading, New Jersey, plant this week, increasing the East Coast’s reliance on imports. The refinery represents 7.7 percent of East Coast gasoline-making capacity, estimated Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.
“The big question for the Northeast will be if they can get enough summer-grade gasoline from Europe and other import locations,” Lipow said.
Retail gasoline, averaged nationwide, was unchanged at $3.777 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. The fuel has jumped 15 percent this year to within 15.9 cents of last year’s high of $3.936, according to AAA data.
Heating oil for March delivery rose 2.96 cents, or 1 percent, to $3.1338 a gallon on the exchange.
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