Gasoline Fluctuates Near Four-Week Low Before Inventory Report

Gasoline fluctuated near a four-week low before the government reports last week’s U.S. inventories.

Futures swung between gains and losses as inventories in the week ended July 25 were the highest seasonally since at least 1990, according to Energy Information Administration data. The EIA will probably say today that gasoline stockpiles fell 500,000 barrels last week as refinery rates dropped 0.3 percent to 91 percent, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts in a survey by Bloomberg.

“Seasonally, it’s weak, but we have fallen pretty hard on gasoline,” said Phil Flynn, vice president of research at PFGBest in Chicago. “Some people are probably covering shorts ahead of the inventory levels.”

Gasoline for September delivery fell 0.22 cent to $2.9129 a gallon at 10:03 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching $2.8906. Trading volume was 13 percent below the 100-day average.

The EIA is scheduled to report last week’s inventories at 10:30 a.m. today in Washington. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute was said to report yesterday that gasoline stockpiles fell 1 million barrels last week.

“High inventory levels combined with no tropical storms on the horizon are pressuring gasoline prices as the driving season winds down over the next few weeks,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Crack Spreads

The motor fuel’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1 cent to $17.12 a barrel. Gasoline’s premium over Brent rose 43 cents to $14.68.

Pump prices, averaged nationwide, slipped 0.8 cent to $3.60 a gallon, Heathrow, Florida-based AAA said today on its website. Prices are 3.4 cents below a year ago.

Distillate stockpiles, including heating oil and diesel, probably held steady, the survey showed. The API reported distillates increased 1.5 million barrels, according to a person familiar with the data.

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel for September delivery declined 2.27 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $2.9856 a gallon on trading volume that was 39 percent above the 100-day average.

ULSD’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 93 cents to $20.12 a barrel. The premium over Brent fell 50 cents to $17.67.

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