Gasoline rose to the highest intraday level in more than seven weeks as U.S. refinery maintenance threatened to curtail production and reduce supply.
Futures climbed as much as 1.1 percent. Petroleo Brasileiro SA is carrying out work on an alkylation unit at its Pasadena, Texas, refinery, while Valero Energy Corp. (VLO)’s Port Arthur site is operating the larger of two crude units at a reduced rate. Inventories of the motor fuel fell 1.85 million barrels to 233.1 million as of Feb. 7, Energy Information Administration data show.
“Gasoline stocks aren’t building as they should be and refinery maintenance is preventing those stockpile builds,” said Tom Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group Ltd. in Jupiter, Florida. “People recognize that as a good source of strength for gasoline.”
March-delivery gasoline climbed 3 cents to $2.8535 at 9:50 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange and touched $2.837, the highest intraday level since Dec. 27. Volume was 67 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day.
The motor fuel’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude, a rough measure of refining profitability, rose to $17.63 a barrel from $17.52 Feb. 14. Gasoline’s premium to European benchmark Brent oil widened 44 cents to $16.19 a barrel.
Ultra low sulfur diesel for March delivery rose 1.3 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $3.0912 a gallon on the Nymex. Trading volume was 67 percent above the 100-day average.
Diesel’s crack spread to WTI dropped 60 cents to $28.38 while the premium to Brent was little changed at $17.62.
The average U.S. pump price for regular unleaded gasoline climbed 0.8 cent to $3.366 a gallon, according to data from Heathrow, Florida-based AAA. It was the 11th consecutive gain and the highest level since Oct. 3. Prices are 36.4 cents below a year ago.
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