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Gasoline Heads for Smallest First-Quarter Advance Since 2008

April gasoline fell, heading for the smallest first-quarter gain in five years, as prices dropped below technical support levels.

Futures slipped as refineries returned from maintenance, boosting operating rates last week to a two-month high. Prices sank below the 20-day and 30-day moving averages. Gasoline has added 9.3 percent since December, the littlest advance for the January through March period since 2008. Gasoline demand over the past four weeks was 0.2 percent below a year ago.

“Technically, it looks pretty weak,” said Carl Larry, a commodities broker at Atlas Commodities LLC in Houston. “Fundamentally, it looks weak.”

Gasoline for April delivery declined 4.35 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $3.072 a gallon at 10:10 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 37 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day.

The motor fuel has gained 5.4 percent in March. The more actively traded May contract fell 2.8 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $3.0838 a gallon. April heating oil and gasoline contracts expire at the close of floor trading today.

May gasoline’s premium over WTI narrowed $1.25 to $32.87 a barrel and touched $32.62, the smallest difference since Feb. 20. The spread versus Brent narrowed 75 cents to $20.26.

Heating oil for April delivery declined 1.03 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $2.9051 a gallon on the Nymex. Trading volume was 23 percent below the 100-day average.

Quarterly Drop

Futures have fallen 4.6 percent during the quarter and 2.3 percent this month. The more actively traded May contract advanced declined 0.91 cent, or 0.3 percent, to $3.0277 a gallon.

Today is the last day of heating oil futures trading. The contracts for delivery in May and later months represent ultra- low-sulfur diesel fuel.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 0.5 cent to $3.645 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. Prices have dropped for the past eight days and are 26.6 cents below a year ago. Price in 2012 peaked on April 4 and April 5 at $3.936.

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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