Gasoline futures rose as the largest oil refinery in the U.S. carried out maintenance, threatening to curtail supplies.
Motiva Enterprises LLC began work at its 600,000-barrel-a-day Port Arthur, Texas, plant on Nov. 19, according to Destin Singleton, a company spokeswoman based in Houston. A drop in output may further reduce stockpiles of gasoline, which fell to a one-year low last week, government data show. The fuel’s premium to West Texas Intermediate crude widened for the first time in three days.
“This is what’s moving RBOB up this morning,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, a Galena, Illinois-based consulting company. “When you see a big refinery like that indicating some problems, you see values rise in futures and crack spreads.”
Gasoline for December delivery gained 3.32 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $2.6962 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:14 a.m. Trading volume was 46 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day. Futures are down 4.1 percent in 2013.
Inventories of the motor fuel sank to 208.9 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 15, the lowest level since Nov. 23, 2012, Energy Information Administration data show.
Prices also climbed as jobless claims in the week ended Nov. 16 dropped by 21,000 to 323,000, the fewest since the week ended Sept. 29, the U.S. Labor Department said today in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 335,000.
“Jobless claims showed a reduction and also boosted the market,” Ritterbusch said in a phone interview today.
Ultra-low-sulfur diesel rose for a second day, adding 0.83 cent, or 0.3 percent, to $2.9628 a gallon. Volume was 79 percent above the average.
U.S. gasoline pump prices, averaged nationwide, climbed 0.8 cent to $3.22 a gallon, the highest level since Nov. 6, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA. Prices are 20.6 cents below a year ago.
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