Gasoline Falls Most in Two Weeks as Strike End to Raise Imports

Gasoline futures fell the most in two weeks as the end to a French refinery strike may increase imports of the motor fuel from Europe.

Workers voted to terminate industrial action at Total SA’s Gonfreville refinery in France, the last of five to resume, Eric Sellini, a CGT union representative, said on Dec. 27. Imports of gasoline into New York Harbor, the delivery point for the Nymex contract, sank 24 percent in the week ended Dec. 20, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“The return of all the French refineries to operations improves supplies in Europe and ultimately affects the markets in the U.S.,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Gasoline for January delivery fell 2.16 cents, or 0.8 percent to $2.7945 a gallon at 10:04 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange on volume that was 40 percent below the 100-day average.

Futures have risen 4.1 percent in December, heading for the biggest monthly gain since July. Prices have fallen 0.6 percent this year.

The labor strike in France started Dec. 13, disrupting output from Total’s five French refineries.

The motor fuel’s crack spread versus WTI, a rough measure of refining profitability, narrowed 21 cents to $17.47 a barrel. Gasoline’s premium to London-traded Brent crude slipped 6 cents to $6.03.

The average U.S. pump price rose 0.3 cent to $3.312 a gallon, the 11th consecutive increase and highest price since Oct. 24, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA.

ULSD for January delivery declined 1.47 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $3.1094 a gallon on volume that was 25 percent below the 100-day average. The futures have climbed 2.2 percent in December and are up 2 percent this year.

The fuel’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude narrowed 21 cents to $29.34 a barrel. The premium over European benchmark Brent increased 1 cent to $17.87.

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara Powell in Houston at bpowell4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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