Gasoline Falls as European Economic Concerns Pull Down Crude

Gasoline slipped after crude fell as Europe’s service and manufacturing sectors contracted and debate over a bailout for Cyprus threatened the euro region’s economic stability.

Futures retreated as the European Central Bank threatened to cut emergency funds to Cyprus banks and euro-area services and manufacturing output contracted more than economists estimated in March. In the U.S., first-time jobless claims increased less than forecast last week and sales of existing homes climbed in February to a three-year high.

“The jobs numbers were good but the European data is weighing on the market because it reiterates the fact that the problems in Europe are larger than Cyprus,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Gasoline for April delivery fell 2.32 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.0931 a gallon at 10:01 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange on trading volume that was 4.8 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day.

Crude oil for May delivery on the Nymex declined 60 cents to $92.90 a barrel while Brent crude for May delivery on the London ICE Futures exchanged retreated 57 cents to $108.15.

A composite index based on a survey of European purchasing managers fell to 46.5 from 47.9 in February, London-based Markit Economics said today. Economists had forecast a reading of 48.2, according to the median of 23 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

Unemployment Benefits

Applications for U.S. jobless benefits increased by 2,000 to 336,000 in the week ended March 16, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists projected 340,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The monthly average, which smoothes the week-to-week volatility, dropped to the lowest level since February 2008.

Heating oil for April delivery declined 0.7 cent, or 0.2 percent, to $2.8851 a gallon on volume that was 49 percent less than the 100-day average for the time of day.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 0.6 cent to $3.691 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. Prices have dropped 9.5 cents since reaching a 2013 high of $3.786 on Feb. 26 and are 17.3 cents below a year ago.

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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